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31 May 2020 

Muslim Doctor bags prestigious international award


issue 10 - August 2014

A new invention with the potential of helping millions of patients suffering from a fatal coronary condition has bagged its Iranian creator a prestigious international prize. Dr. Zahra Alizadeh Sani, cardiology specialist from Iran University of Medical Science, won the award for the Greatest World Woman Inventor at this year’s Geneva International Festival for Inventions, beating 2000 rival inventions. Dr Alizadeh has invented software to determine the level of the tightness of heart coronary arteries which also makes it possible to determine if patients need to undergo angioplasty. “This is the easiest, cheapest and safest method to determine the level of the tightness of the coronary arteries,” claims Alizadeh. Together with her brother Roohollah Alizadeh Sani and Mohammad Javad Hosseini, faculty members of the computer department of Sharif Engineering at Mashhad University, she developed the method by using mathematics and physics algorithms. The method was successfully tested on 303 patients. It proved to have an accuracy of 100 percent and sensitivity of 95 percent and can be used in hospitals, emergency rooms and even ambulances. Only 5% of the 2000 inventions represented in the festival will ever reach commercial production. Dr. Alizadeh said that some European countries including Germany, Spain and Belgium are eager to produce the software, but she would prefer it be done in Iran. She has already reached agreement with other countries who are eager to utilise her mathematical formula in other medical fields such as genetics. Coronary arteries are tiny vessels which are responsible for delivering blood into the heart tissue. Arteries tighten due to the formation and sedimentation of plaque on the interior wall of the coroners which may result in complete occlusion of the coroners. When these arteries are blocked, blood cannot find its way to the heart tissue causing an ischemic tissue to form in the heart muscle, resulting in heart infarction. If the tightness is diagnosed early then a tiny stent can be placed inside the coroner by a procedure called angioplasty. Stents are small meshed tubes which support the inner wall of the artery in the months or years after angioplasty. An estimated 17 million people worldwide die every year of cardiovascular diseases, particularly heart attacks and strokes. A substantial number of these deaths can be attributed to tobacco smoking, which increases the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease by two or three times. Physical inactivity and unhealthy diet (high cholesterol and saturated oil containing foods) are other main risk factors which increase an individual’s risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases. Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of cardiovascular mortality worldwide with more than 4.5 million deaths occurring in the developing world. Currently the only available method for determining the level of the coronary arteries’ tightness is angiography which is an expensive, invasive method, with lots of possible complications for the patient. These complications are often minor but also include injury to the catheterised artery, a tear in the heart or artery, blood clots, kidney damage, stroke, blood vessel damage and serious life threatening allergic reaction to the contrast dye. Although major complications are rare the potential risks do spell out the case for a new less invasive method. In the innovative method developed by Dr Alizadeh and her colleagues, the level of tightness is determined by use of the patient’s basic information like history, simple lab test results, electrocardiogram and echocardiography which could be analysed online using the software by medical experts to determine if angioplasty is required. Alizadeh says her biggest worry is that rivals may copy her method as the international invention registration is not yet complete. As a five year-old the doctor witnessed her home town of Tabas devastated in an earthquake in 1978. The experience left her deeply scarred. She dedicated one of her gold medals to the survivors of the recent Boushehr and Azerbaijan earthquakes. • ... read more