Two cutting-edge physicians are using computer models to help predict and reduce stroke risk for heart surgery patients. While it takes a medical degree to understand the data, it’s not hard to see how it works. In an effort to solve heart issues with less invasive procedures, many cardiologists use catheters to clear blocked arteries, which means less recovery time than major surgery. Even when patients require more aggressive heart surgery, like valve replacements, less invasive procedures are more prevalent options. But some of those surgeries can increase stroke risk, and Drs. Robert Schwartz and Shawn Shadden found a way to use computer engineering to find out why. Schwartz and Sadden found that inserting a catheter can, simply put, “knock junk loose” into the bloodstream, and they collaborated to track the “junk,” tiny but potentially harmful particulates, and figure out how and why they can reach the brain and cause a stroke. As their research continues, they’re not just reducing stroke risk, but improving the availability of the heart procedures that let people get back to their lives much more quickly.