Cardiology

3D scans spot earliest signs of heart disease

Researchers have shown that people with high blood pressure develop changes in their hearts even before symptoms appear. These changes are known to put people at risk of dying early, and the new work suggests it is possible for doctors to recognise such signs of heart disease earlier than they can today - by examining detailed images of the heart.

Contours modelled in 3D and shown in deeper red are those where high blood...
Contours modelled in 3D and shown in deeper red are those where high blood pressure is thought to cause most harm
Source: MRC's Clinical Sciences Centre

The scientists, from the MRC's Clinical Sciences Centre based at Imperial College London, used specialised MRI scans to create a 3D map of the hearts of 1500 people. They then used the latest computer technology to explore each person’s heart to establish the precise changes in its shape and function - the effects of increasing blood pressure.

This revealed that even in healthy adults a small increase in blood pressure led to thickening of the heart muscle that is known to be a risk-factor for premature death.

High blood pressure affects 16 million people in the UK and causes 62,000 preventable deaths from stroke and heart attack. It rarely has any symptoms and the only way for people to know if they have the condition is to have their blood pressure measured.

Lead author for the study, Dr Declan O’Regan says, “New 3D imaging technology lets researchers look at the living heart in amazing detail. The risk of high blood pressure is well known, but these scans show the earliest signs of damage to the heart may begin in completely healthy people. This suggests that any increase in our blood pressure may put greater strain on the heart.”

Dr Antonio de Marvao, first author, says, “This new research will enable doctors to recognise signs of heart disease at a much earlier stage than has previously been possible. High blood pressure is often called the ‘silent killer’, and we can now see that its effects start much earlier and affect more people than previously thought.”

The next step, the researchers say, is to look for any genetic differences between those people who develop the changes in their hearts that suggest a raised risk of developing heart disease, and people who do not develop such changes.


Source: MRC Clinical Sciences Centre/Institute of Clinical Sciences (ICS) Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London

04.11.2015

Read all latest stories

Related articles

Photo

Catheter ablation support

Software lets surgeon see real-time 3D map of heart

Innovative software that allows a surgeon to view inside a patient’s heart in real time while applying treatment has been used for the first time in the UK in operations at the National Institute…

Photo

Spotting scar muscles of the heart

New MRI technique saves kidneys from gadolinium damage

Traditional MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans use the metal gadolinium, which resonates areas of the heart muscles that are not functioning efficiently. However, gadolinium affects the Kidney…

Photo

Tailor-made

Artificial heart valves from silicone

Scientists at ETH Zürich and the South African company Strait Access Technologies are using 3D printing to produce custom-made artificial heart valves from silicone. This could help meet an ageing…

Related products

AB Medical – V-Tube EDTA K2, K3

Blood Cell Counter

AB Medical – V-Tube EDTA K2, K3

AB Medical V-Tube
Analyticon Biotechnologogies – Hemolyzer 3 NG / Hemolyzer 5 NG

Blood Cell Counter

Analyticon Biotechnologogies – Hemolyzer 3 NG / Hemolyzer 5 NG

Analyticon Biotechnologies AG
BD Vacutainer UltraTouch Push Button Blood Collection Set

Blood Collection

BD Vacutainer UltraTouch Push Button Blood Collection Set

BD – Becton Dickinson
Beckman Coulter – DxH 520 Hematology Analyzer

Blood Cell Counter

Beckman Coulter – DxH 520 Hematology Analyzer

Beckman Coulter, Inc.
Beckman Coulter – Early Sepsis Indicator

Blood Cell Counter

Beckman Coulter – Early Sepsis Indicator

Beckman Coulter, Inc.
Greiner – Vacuette EDTA Tube

Blood Cell Counter

Greiner – Vacuette EDTA Tube

Greiner Bio-One