Fit for heart surgery? Study helps older adults make decisions with their surgeons

April 8, 2019

In 2017 at the age of 77, Sally O’Brien faced a tough decision. Not only were her coronary arteries almost completely blocked, she also had emphysema and an aneurysm in her aorta. “I knew that if I didn’t have surgery, I could have a major heart attack and much bigger problems, but I was also afraid I might not survive the surgery.” While some advised her that coronary artery bypass surgery was too risky given her age and other health problems, Dr. Greg Hirsch determined otherwise. The Halifax cardiac surgeon and his team thoroughly assessed Sally’s fitness for the surgery using sensitive tools for measuring fitness versus frailty developed at Dalhousie University and the Nova Scotia Health Authority.