Researchers will use groundbreaking imaging techniques to detect scar tissue as it forms on the heart – the cause of nearly all forms of heart failure.
Although scar tissue is normal after many conditions, including heart attacks and heart valve disease, the excessive buildup can prevent the heart from beating efficiently. Until now, scanners could only identify these scars based on their origin and only in certain places.
India has one of the highest burdens of cardiovascular disease (CVD) worldwide. The annual number of deaths from CVD in India is projected to rise from 2.26 million (1990) to 4.77 million (2020). Coronary heart disease prevalence rates in India have been estimated over the past several decades and have ranged from 1.6% to 7.4% in rural populations and from 1% to 13.2% in urban populations.
If this study, funded by the British Heart Foundation, is successful, researchers will be able to see and understand more about how scars form, which will hopefully lead to better treatments. Professor Marc Dweck, Chair of Clinical Cardiology at the University of Edinburgh and leader of the project, said the ability to see scars in real-time as they develop on the heart muscle would be a “major scientific breakthrough” and could change the way how we diagnose and treat the patients.
“Our understanding of how scarring develops in the heart muscle isn’t very good. We don’t really understand the processes that turn it on, the processes that turn it off, and the processes that cause it to carry on when we don’t want it to and lead to heart failure. That’s where this scanning technology is exciting because we’re able to study that in our patients whilst they have heart disease,” he said.
Professor Dweck’s project is one of more than 100 currently funded by the BHF in ten Scottish universities.
James Jopling, Head of BHF Scotland, said, “This is an example of how cutting-edge research is transforming our understanding of heart disease, including coronary heart disease – the cause of most heart attacks – and one of Scotland’s biggest killers.”
Individuals at risk of CVD may demonstrate raised blood pressure, glucose and lipids as well as overweight and obesity. Identifying those at the highest risk of CVDs and ensuring they receive appropriate treatment can prevent premature deaths. Access to essential NCD medicines and basic health technologies in all primary health care facilities is essential to ensure that those in need receive treatment and counselling.