Apps for heart: Dr. Edward M. Bender developed iPhone apps to help predict the risks of heart surgery

Monday, April 19, 2010
This is one of the graphic screens on Dr. Edward Bender´s heart surgery risk calculator app available on the iTunes App Store. (Fred Lynch)

We use our iPhones to play music and surf the Web, but did you know it can predict your risk of complications after heart surgery? Thanks to an app developed by Cape Girardeau cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Edward M. Bender, it does now.

Bender recently developed five applications for the iPhone to help doctors and patients predict the risks associated with heart surgery. The apps range from free to $3.99 on the iTunes App Store. Some of his apps are downloaded up to 100 times each day.

"If I'm talking to a patient and they want to know their chances of [surgical] complications, I can just whip this out and tell you how your case compares to the other 4 million in the database. Everybody knows what to expect before the procedure. I've got all the numbers at my fingertips and the patients and their families can have the data, too," Bender said.

Following is a description of each of Bender's apps, developed with the California-based ARMUS Corp. which maintains a database used to calculate the risks of cardiothoracic surgery.

* CV Surgery Ventilator Risk

Prolonged ventilation after open heart surgery is a risk factor that extends hospital stays and increases incurred costs and poorer physiologic outcomes. This application is used to predict the risk of postoperative mechanical ventilation after open heart surgery.

* EuroSCORE Calculator

EuroSCORE stands for European System for Cardiac Operative Risk Evaluation. It is a method of predicting the chances of dying during or shortly after undergoing open heart surgery.

* CV Surgery Risk

Cardiac surgery has inherent risks. This application is designed to estimate the risk of morbidity and mortality following the most common types of open heart surgery. It is designed to be used as a tool to guide physicians' discussions with patients, families and health care providers regarding the potential outcomes after open heart surgery.

* PCI Risk

Risk stratification for medical procedures is an important part of appropriate therapy for many diseases, including coronary artery disease. This application serves as a simple bedside tool, using common clinical variables, to predict mortality or major adverse cardiac events.

* Heart Surgery Risk

This application is designed to give patients and their families an estimate of what the chances for complications or death are for a patient who is considering coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

Bender is currently working on a sixth app, which will provide a single access point to data from all the major cardiothoracic societies. Also in the development stage is a cardiothoracic application for the newly announced iPad. He says the iPad could become an important teaching tool in the medical field.

"The simulations one can do on the iPad make training much easier for residents and surgeons. One can be attached to a wall in a patient's room, and it can be used to call up a patient's medical history, their X-rays and their labs all with the touch of a finger," Bender said.

Bender earned his medical degree from Wayne State University, Detroit. He completed both his internship and residency at the University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center in Denver, before moving on to the University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, for his fellowship.

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