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(E) Croatian Professor in Houston Works on Heart Research
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  03/4/2004 | Science | Unrated
(E) Croatian Professor in Houston Works on Heart Research


Professor hopes to help heart patients like her late father

The following story appeared on the web page of News 24 Houston, a local
all news television station in Houston, Texas. John Kraljic

Professor hopes to help heart patients like her late father
3/1/2004 6:06:55 PM
By: Kristi Nakamura

Stent grafts can help heart patients.
University of Houston Math Professor Suncica Canic lost her father to an
abdominal aortic aneurysm. That's when a bulge in the abdominal artery bursts, often causing sudden death.

She says he was too old to undergo the surgery that would have saved
him, and at that time in Croatia where he lived, there was no
non-surgical alternative.

"I felt guilty about not learning more, not knowing more about that at
that time," said Canic.

After her father's death, Canic began talking with Dr. Zvonimir Krajcer
at the Texas Heart Institute. He explained to her how stents could be
inserted by catheter to help patients like her father.

A stent is a mesh-like tube inserted at the site of the aneurysm to keep
it from bursting. But Canic soon learned that even treatment with stents
was far from perfect.

"Some of the stent grafts have shown -- over longer periods of time --
certain concerns and problems as far as its durability is concerned, and
some of those were related to design," said Dr. Krajcer.

"I saw that there are very little input from bioengineering, mathematics
or numerical simulations, and I thought that we could help out in
designing cardiovascular procedures and in designing optimal stents,"
said Canic.

Even though it was too late to save her father, Canic saw an opportunity
to help others like him. She formed an interdisciplinary collaborative
with cardiologists from Texas Heart Institute and an engineer from UT

"They have helped us in designing a mathematical model to mimic the
functions of certain stent grafts and predict any problems that might
occur just on the basis of structural properties of those stent grafts,"
said Dr. Krajcer.

Canic says through the model they have been able to develop a design for
a mathematically optimal stent. She says an optimal stent should more
closely mimic the pulse of a healthy artery and therefore reduce

She says hopefully that will save lives, and she'd like to think that
would have made her father proud.

Doctors say stents are also used to treat coronary artery disease. They
are inserted into blocked arteries to keep them open.

Copyright © 2004 TWEAN d.b.a. News 24 Houston

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