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OTTAWA, April 4, 2002 - Preventing catastrophic bleeding after heart surgery; that is the ultimate goal of a nationwide study that is being led by clinical investigators Paul Hébert and Dean Fergusson at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. The study will compare three drugs that help to decrease blood loss and recommend standard practices to optimize patient outcomes.

Thanks to joint funding of $4 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the three-year study is set to begin this spring. Data will be gathered from 3,000 patients in over 20 centres across the country.

Mac Harb, MP for Ottawa Centre, made the Federal funding announcement today on behalf of Health Minister Anne McLellan. "This is an excellent example of the impact that health research can have in improving the quality of lives of Canadians", said Mr. Harb.

It is estimated that every year, one million heart surgeries are performed around the world, with about 35,000 of them taking place in Canada. Catastrophic bleeding is a common and serious complication following heart bypass surgery. This devastating complication is experienced by approximately one in every 10 to 20 high-risk patients undergoing heart surgery, and often results in transfusions of blood and plasma, additional surgery and even death. It also has important health and economic consequences. Antifibrinolytic drugs, such as aprotinin, tranexamic acid and epsilon-aminocaproic acid, are used to decrease the amount of bleeding and therefore the amount of blood components transfused. These three drugs are used to varying degrees in hospitals across Canada, with no apparent standard. Furthermore, although there is no solid evidence yet that one product outperforms the others, there is a substantial cost difference between each of the drugs, which vary from approximately $70 to $1,500 per patient.

"We've canvassed our colleagues across the country and have determined that there is no standard practice in the choice or application of these drugs," says principal investigator Dr. Paul Hébert. "The main goal of our study is to determine whether one product or the other is superior in terms of patient outcomes. If one stands out and increases the patient's chance of survival, we want to recommend that this product is used across the board, whether you have heart surgery in Vancouver, St-John's or anywhere in between." If however, the products perform equally, the investigators must factor in health economics when delivering their recommendation. "Should the three drugs 'abilities to reduce bleeding be the same, we will then have to favour economy so that we can also prevent the healthcare system from slowly bleeding to death," added Dr. Hébert.

"Research focused on improving Canada's health services and health care delivery is a key part of CIHR's mandate," noted CIHR President, Dr. Alan Bernstein. "Not only will Dr. Hébert's team examine an important health problem, his team will ultimately make recommendations that could save untold number of lives and reduce the burden of illness on our health care system."

The coordinating site for the study is the University of Ottawa Centre for Transfusion Research, part of the Clinical Epidemiology Program of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. The OHRI is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and a major part of the University of Ottawa Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences.

CIHR is Canada's premier agency for funding health research. Its objective is to excel, according to internationally accepted standards of scientific excellence, in the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened health care system.


Contact information:
CIHR - Andrew Matejcic, Communications, (613) 954-7143
OHRI - Ron Vezina, Media Relations Officer, (613) 737-8460
Office of the Honourable Anne McLellan - Farah Mohamed, (613) 957-0200

Local investigators:

Calgary Dr. Charles MacAdams, Foothills Medical Centre
Edmonton Dr. Barry Finegan, University of Alberta Site, Walter C. McKenzie Health Sciences Centre
Halifax Dr. Ramiro Arellano, Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre
Hamilton Dr. Kevin Teoh, Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation - General Division
Kingston Dr. John Cain, Kingston General Hospital
London Dr. John Murkin, London Health Sciences Centre
Mississauga Dr. Bill Wong, Trillium Health Centre
Montreal Dr. Raymond Martineau, Institut de Cardiologie de Montreal
New Westminster Dr. Randall Moore, Royal Columbian Hospital
Ottawa Dr. Paul Hébert, co-Principal Investigator - Coordinating Centre
Dr. Jim Robblee, University of Ottawa Heart Institute
Dr. Marc Rodger, Coordinating Centre/ Ottawa Hospital
Dr. George Wells, Biostatistician - Coordinating Centre
Dean Fergusson, co-Principal Investigator - Coordinating Centre
Regina Dr. Joy Dobson, Regina General Hospital
Sherbrooke Dr. René Martin, Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke
St. Foy Dr. Dany Coté, Hopital Laval
St. John's Dr. Ken Ledez, Memorial University of Newfoundland Health Sciences Centre
Sudbury Dr. Sanjit Mathur, Sudbury Memorial Hospital
Toronto Dr. Stephen Fremes, Sunnybrook & Women's College Health Sciences Centre, Schulich Heart Centre
Dr. Jacek Karski, Toronto Hospital
Dr. David Mazer, St. Michael's Hospital
Vancouver Dr. David Ansley, Vancouver General Hospital
Dr. Brian Warriner, St. Paul's Hospital
Victoria Dr. Gary Townsend, Victoria Heart Insititute Foundation
Winnipeg Dr. Peter Duke, Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre

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