Results of a study carried out in partnership with the Golden Jubilee National Hospital, the University of Glasgow and the British Heart Foundation were presented at the British Cardiovascular Society annual conference on 8th June in Manchester.
The test – known as the Index of Microvascular Resistance (IMR) – uses a pressure and temperature sensitive wire inserted into the coronary artery. It can accurately work out the extent of vessel injury in the heart, and can predict if the patient is likely to go on to develop heart failure, or even die.
Early treatment following a heart attack can reduce the chance of heart failure and improve both wellbeing and chances of survival. For those who survive a heart attack there is a risk that the heart will have been damaged, which can lead to heart failure; this can have a huge impact on the patient’s life, leaving them tired, short of breath and unable to do simple tasks like walk or take a shower by themselves.
Lead researcher Professor Colin Berry, a Cardiologist at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital, commented: “After a suspected heart attack, a patient is routinely given a coronary angiogram to identify any narrowed blood vessels.
“Currently, we make treatment decisions based on this standard assessment technique but it can only identify narrowed vessels and cannot tell the doctor if, or how much, heart blood vessel damage has occurred.
“This new technique can tell us the level of damage in a matter of minutes, allowing us to quickly and accurately identify patients who are at a high risk of heart failure after their heart attack.
“The results of this study will help us improve the outlook for this group of patients and help us develop new treatments to limit heart damage, reducing the burden of heart failure on the patient, their families and carers.”
Run by the University of Glasgow on behalf of the British Heart Foundation (BHF), the study was part funded by the Golden Jubilee; the hospital provided funding for the pressure wires and enrolled all of the patient participants. All heart attack patients attending the Golden Jubilee were eligible; those who took part will have life-long follow up to see if the IMR result predicts survival in the long term.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, commented: “More and more people are surviving heart attacks due to the huge advances we’ve made in cardiology, but that isn’t the end of the story. A heart attack causes damage which can leave a person facing a horrendous daily struggle.
“If we can identify the people at greatest risk of developing heart failure following a heart attack, and treat them more quickly, we could reduce the effects that these terrible events can have on individuals and communities. What we need now is for the public to help us fund more research to find possible new treatments for people with heart failure.”