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NOSM University researcher and partners develop groundbreaking heart attack classification 

Posted on December 13, 2023

A new clinical classification is a gamechanger in the way that medical providers assess heart attacks. Released by the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS), the classification is based on research by Dr. Andreas Kumar, Associate Professor at NOSM University and Cardiologist at Health Sciences North, along with his colleague Dr. Rohan Dharmakumar at Indiana University School of Medicine. NOSM University MD student Suzanne Betteridge-LeBlanc, cardiac surgeon and NOSM University Professor Dr. Rony Atoui, and cardiologist Dr. Anthony Main were also authors on the classification, alongside a team of Canadian and American experts. 

A powerful risk assessment tool, the novel classification assesses the tissue damage of heart attack patients. It divides cases into four categories based on the severity of tissue injury—an innovation that was not previously possible. The classification will be used by all health-care workers providing care for patients with heart attacks: cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, nurses, imaging technologists, and more.   

“Not all heart attacks are the same,” says Dr. Kumar. “Physicians can gain a good sense of the patient’s risk category by assessing their tissue damage. It may even help with patient communication. Conveying to a patient that their heart attack is a less severe stage or more advanced stage may help patients better grasp the severity of disease. 

According to Dr. Kumar, the new work builds on more than four decades of heart attack research and puts this research in a new light—but it’s the possibility for future innovations that may make this research most impactful for patients. 

“Going forward, the development of better treatments will be possible for patients when we take into account the CCS stage of tissue damage,” he explains. “We will be able to improve patient care and develop more personalized therapies. I believe that in five or ten years, we will have different therapies that are proven to be effective for different stages of heart attacks.” 

“This will have a profound impact on heart attack patients,” he says. 

For more on Dr. Kumar’s research, listen to his recent interview on the podcast Parallax: Conversations in Cardiology 


(L-R): Suzanne Betteridge-LeBlanc, NOSM University MD student; Dr. Rony Atoui, Cardiac Surgeon, Health Sciences North and NOSM University Professor; Dr. Andreas Kumar, Cardiologist, Health Sciences North, NOSM University Associate Professor, and President, Canadian Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Dr. Anthony Main, Cardiologist, Health Sciences North. (Photo credit: Health Sciences North)