Warning signs of a heart condition that can quickly become fatal could now be observed for the first time in living patients.
Scientists have investigated how they can use a brain scanner to diagnose people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
The condition can go unnoticed by some people – it is believed that one in 500 is known around the world, but causes a sudden death in others.
Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the field during a game in 2012, due to the situation, even though he was only 23 years old.
And until now it could not be diagnosed in living patients because it requires careful examination of the fibers in the heart.
Scientists can use MRI scanners to take photos of the heart muscle fibers and to spot signs of deadly hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This scan, taken during the examination, shows on the left a normal heart structure and on the right a heart with muscle fiber deterioration which is shown by breaking the yellow ring of muscle fibers and is incomplete
Researchers from Oxford University have used brain scanning technology to correct & # 39; disorder & # 39; in muscle fibers in the heart, which is a clear signal of the condition.
Heart fibers in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are not arranged in the same way as in a healthy patient and are less able to spread a heartbeat evenly over the organ.
This means that certain parts of the heart become abnormally thick, which increases the risk of an irregular heartbeat, heart failure, stroke or sudden death due to cardiac arrest.
In the past, studying these heart fibers to check for abnormalities could only be done after a patient had already died.
Being able to do it while someone is still alive and potentially healthy would offer doctors opportunities to protect people from heart damage.
& # 39; This is the first time that we can assess disarray non-invasively in living patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, & # 39; said Dr. Rina Ariga, an NHS cardiologist and lead author of the study.
& # 39; We are hopeful that this new scan will improve the way we identify high-risk patients so that they can receive an implantable cardioverter defibrillator early to prevent sudden death. & # 39;
If the scan shows that someone has the distorted disarray in their heart muscle fibers, doctors can place a defibrillator.
This would be an electronic device that, when it detects that the heart is not beating normally, restarts the organ to resume a normal heartbeat.
Although many patients live full and long lives without ever knowing they have the condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the leading heart-related cause of sudden deaths among young people, Dr. Ariga said.
Muamba was only 23 when he collapsed due to the state of 41 minutes in a FA Cup quarter-final match against Tottenham Hotspur.
Medici gave him CPR on the field and he needed 15 defibrillator shocks, two of which were given on the field, to revive him after he was 78 minutes & # 39; died & # 39 ;.
Fabrice Muamba (photo) played in a FA Cup-game for Bolton Wanderers when his heart suddenly stopped due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Players and fans watched as doctors tried desperately to breathe new life into Muamba by performing CPR after he collapsed during the game – he & # 39; died & # 39; for more than an hour but was successfully resuscitated
WHAT IS HYPERTROPHIC CARDIOMYOPATHY?
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart muscle thickens.
About one in 5000 people has the condition, and it usually develops during the teenage years or young adulthood.
However, the symptoms vary depending on the severity.
These include shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, and fainting – usually during exercise.
It can cause the heart muscle to become stiff, which means that your left ventricle will not fill as easily as normal and less blood will be pumped away.
It can also partially block blood flow, making small blood clots more likely.
The now recovered and retired player said afterwards: & # 39; The last thing I remember was (a defender) yelling at me to come back and help in the defense.
& # 39; I just felt myself fall when I felt two lumps when my head fell on the floor in front of me then it was. Blackness, nothing. I was dead. & # 39;
The pioneering technique of the researchers is the use of an MRI machine, which is used daily by the NHS to scan different parts of the body.
Although they were successful in brain scanning, scientists had found it harder to make the technique work on the constantly moving heart.
But by always scanning when the heart was most relaxed, they were able to merge images of how the fibers of the heart are arranged.
"The problem is that the large movements of a beating heart undermine the microscopic diffuse movement of the water molecules that we are trying to measure," Dr. Liz Tunnicliffe, a co-author of the research.
& # 39; Recent developments in magnetic resonance technology have now made diffusion tensor imaging of the heart possible in humans. & # 39;
Professor Metin Avkiran, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, who co-financed the research, added: “Every week in the UK, 12 people under the age of 35 die after a sudden cardiac arrest.
& # 39; Many of these deaths are due to hereditary heart disease, of which hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common.
& # 39; This exciting research opens the possibility of using a non-invasive scan to better recognize changes in heart muscle in people with HCM, to find those at risk of sudden cardiac arrest and to ensure that they receive the best preventive care.
& # 39; Although further research is needed to refine and test this scan, the potential benefit for patients with HCM is huge.
& # 39; This work is an excellent example of advanced research-led technology that can change the way we diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease. & # 39;
The research was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
. (TagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) health (t) bolton vagrants