In the heart, as in the movies, 3D action beats the 2D experience hands down. In 3D, healthy hearts do their own version of the twist. Rather than a simple pumping action, they circulate blood as if they were wringing a towel. The bottom of the heart twists as it contracts in a counterclockwise direction while the top twists clockwise. Scientists call this the left ventricular twist—and it can be used as an indicator of heart health.
Using a 3-D printer, biomedical engineers have developed a custom-fitted, implantable device with embedded sensors that could transform treatment and prediction of cardiac disorders. An international team of biomedical engineers and materials scientists have created a 3-D elastic membrane made of a soft, flexible, silicon material that is precisely shaped to match the heart’s epicardium, or the outer layer of the wall of the heart.
Cardiac arrhythmia is one of the most common diseases encountered in clinical cardiology. High-speed electrophysiological imaging using fluorescent probes has yielded tremendous insights into the basic mechanisms of arrhythmias and the effects of anti-arrhythmic drugs. However, optical mapping, as it is known to the cardiac research community, has remained relegated to the isolated (i.e. explanted) heart.
To provide caregivers with timely information about the clotting properties of a patient’s blood, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have developed an optical device that requires only a few drops of blood and a few minutes to measure the key coagulation parameters that can guide medical decisions, like how much blood to transfuse or what doses of anticoagulant drugs to administer.
New research from Queen Mary University of London has discovered 11 new DNA sequence variants in genes influencing high blood pressure and heart disease. Identifying the new genes contributes to our growing understanding of the biology of blood pressure and, researchers believe, will eventually influence the development of new treatments.
Scientists discovered that iron deficiency may increase stroke risk by making the blood more sticky. The findings could ultimately help with stroke prevention. The team found that iron deficiency increases the stickiness of platelets, which initiate blood clotting when they stick together. Although a link between iron deficiency and sticky platelets was first discovered almost 40 years ago, its role has been overlooked until now.
Research at the University of Liverpool has explained how cells behave when placed in a low oxygen environment, a development that could have implications for cancer patients and other serious illnesses. The research opens up the possibility of controlling the signals that keep cells alive, preventing the damages caused by ischemia—a restriction of blood supply to tissues. It could also work to help destroy cancer cells.
Clemson University researchers have developed nanoparticles that can deliver drugs targeting damaged arteries, a non-invasive method to fight heart disease. One of the standard ways to treat clogged and damaged arteries currently is to implant vascular stents, which hold the vessels open and release such drugs as paclitaxel. The researchers hope their advanced nanoparticles could be used alongside stents or in lieu of them.
A team reports that they have taken an important step toward the goal of growing replacement heart valves from a patient’s own cells by determining that the mechanical forces generated by the rhythmic expansion and contraction of cardiac muscle cells play an active role in the initial stage of heart valve formation.
Researchers have developed the technology for a catheter-based device that would provide forward-looking, real-time, three-dimensional imaging from inside the heart, coronary arteries and peripheral blood vessels. With its volumetric imaging, the new device could better guide surgeons working in the heart, and potentially allow more of patients’ clogged arteries to be cleared without major surgery.
Women have a higher risk of blood clots that can cause strokes, heart attacks and other problems for 12 weeks after childbirth — twice as long as doctors have thought, new research finds. Strokes are still fairly rare right after pregnancy but devastating when they do occur and fatal about 10 percent of the time.
A team of researchers used a novel genetics approach integrated with cardiovascular outcomes and lipid data taken from blood samples from study participants to target specific lipids in the blood. The approach allowed the team to rule out other behavioral or environmental factors that may contribute to heart disease.
Whether lifting weights in a gym or just walking around the block, exercise has many benefits, such as helping people lose weight and build stronger muscles. Some studies suggest that it may reduce the risk of developing cancer and other diseases. Researchers now report that moderate, long-term physical activity appears to improve cardiovascular health in mice by targeting the heart cells’ powerhouses—the mitochondria.
Designing nanomedicine to combat diseases is a hot area of scientific research, primarily for treating cancer, but very little is known in the context of atherosclerotic disease. Scientists have engineered a microchip coated with blood vessel cells to learn more about the conditions under which nanoparticles accumulate in the plaque-filled arteries of patients with atherosclerosis.
Could too much sugar be deadly? The biggest study of its kind suggests the answer is yes, at least when it comes to fatal heart problems. It doesn't take all that much extra sugar, hidden in many processed foods, to substantially raise the risk, the researchers found, and most Americans eat more than the safest amount.
High blood pressure can be caused by many things - one of them being a specific mutated protein. Now the researchers at University of Southern Denmark have found out exactly what unfortunate events in the human organism are initiated by the mutated protein.
Exposure to environmental endocrine disrupters, such as bisphenol A, which mimic estrogen, is associated with adverse health effects. Bisphenol A is commonly found in plastic bottles and plastic food containers. New research on the effects of these chemicals on zebrafish shows that embryonic heart valves could be particularly in danger.
Exposing skin to sunlight may help to reduce blood pressure by altering levels of the small messenger molecule nitric oxide (NO) in the skin and blood, thus cutting the risk of heart attack and stroke, a new study says.
New research from Queen Mary University of London has revealed – for the first time – how the condition Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA) may be caused by a certain group of white blood cells called ‘neutrophils’. GCA (also known as temporal arteritis) is a condition which causes severe inflammation in the blood vessels and primarily affects the elderly.
The immune system plays an important role in the heart’s response to injury. But until recently, confusing data made it difficult to distinguish the immune factors that encourage the heart to heal following a heart attack, for example, from those that lead to further damage. Now, researchers have shown that two major pools of immune cells are at work in the heart.
A major mystery in heart disease—why most people who develop serious heart disease have normal blood pressure and cholesterol—may have been solved in a “tremendously significant” study. Some are already calling the study “important” and “frame-shifting.” The study—Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis—found that coronary artery calcium scans can often more accurately predict heart disease than cholesterol and blood pressure readings.
A study led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine shows that one of the most widely used systems for predicting risk of adverse heart events should be re-evaluated. A surprise finding was that coronary artery calcium (CAC) density may be protective against cardiovascular events.
A new MRI method to map creatine at higher resolutions in the heart may help clinicians and scientists find abnormalities and disorders earlier than traditional diagnostic methods. The preclinical findings show an advantage over less sensitive tests and point to a safer and more cost-effective approach than those with radioactive or contrasting agents.
Researchers have found a new role in stemming bleeding and preventing obstruction of blood flow, explaining the need for speed in busting harmful clots.