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Detective Work

Tuesday 29 October 2019 3:39pm

Dr Moritz Lassé Image
Dr Moritz Lassé, Research Fellow

Research Fellow Dr Moritz Lassé, has been awarded a Heart Foundation small project grant (NZD$14,050) to help detect kidney damage occurring during worsening heart failure.

The heart and the kidneys work closely together so when one gets damaged the other can too. The problem is, there is currently no way of knowing whether kidney function is rapidly changing when a person first presents to the hospital, making it difficult for early detection of active kidney damage accompanying from the heart failure event.

“Damaged kidneys filter less creatinine out of the bloodstream resulting in an increased concentration in blood. The biggest hurdle clinicians face is that approximately 50 per cent of patients admitted to hospital with heart failure have not had a recent creatinine blood test, so it is impossible to know whether the first result reflects stable or changing kidney function making it a challenge to provide optimal care for people with acute heart failure,” says Dr Lassé.

Dr Lassé plans to adopt a technique forensic scientist’s use to measure drugs or toxins in the body by measuring molecules in the hair.

“Our test of measuring past kidney function, by looking at a single hair, will benefit all Kiwis. In New Zealand, heart failure is a leading cause of hospitalisation in adults over 65 years of age and about a quarter of these patients will have kidney damage and nearly double the risk of dying within a year. Having a better grasp of past kidney function will improve clinical decision making which will hopefully improve a patient’s quality of life and their chance of survival,” says Dr Lassé.

Dr Lassé says providing clinicians with a diagnostic tool to establish baseline or background creatinine would lead to earlier and more accurate detection of deteriorating kidney function, facilitate better decision making and thereby improve patient outcomes.

“The small project grant from the Heart Foundation will provide a great kick-start for this project! The funding will allow us to gather important pilot data to establish whether our idea is feasible. Without the generous support from all the donations people give to the Heart Foundation, we could not undertake this project.”

Media contact

Paula de Roeper
Christchurch Heart Institute Communication Manager
Tel +64 27 316 0571