Normally, in people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) – a condition that causes portions of the heart to get bigger without any obvious cause – the only way to see the structural changes in the heart is after a person has died. The condition is the number one cause of sudden cardiac death in young individuals. But a new scan technique could pick up signs that a person is at risk of suddenly dying from a hidden heart condition while they are still alive. Researchers from Oxford University developed the new technique, which uses microscopic imaging, to check for muscle fibre disarray. This is when abnormal fibre patterns occur in the heart, not allowing heartbeats to spread evenly across its muscle fibres, which can lead to potentially deadly heart rhythms. For the study – the findings of which are published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology – the researchers scanned 50 patients with HCM and 30 healthy people. They were able to see disarray in the HCM patients’ muscle fibres – something that had never been witnessed before in living subjects. The scan technique, known as diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging, has, up until now, normally only been used on the brain, but scientific advances mean that it can now be used on the heart too. Dr Rina Ariga, study author and cardiologist at University of Oxford, said: “We're 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.” Footballer Fabrice Muamba is one of the most famous people to be affected by HCM. He almost died after collapsing during a match in the UK. In fact, Muamba was technically dead for a staggering 78 minutes before regaining consciousness. At the time of the incident, Muamba was 23 years old and in his prime as an athlete.
Calcium is well-known for its role in promoting healthy bones, but a new study suggests it could also be beneficial for heart health too. Cardiac arrest, or heart attack, is one of the leading causes of death in the United States today. In fact, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), approximately 350,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests (SCAs) occur in America every year. Furthermore, almost 90% of people who experience SCA die as a result. The primary cause of SCA is coronary heart disease. However, around 50% of women and 70% of men who die from SCA have no medical history of heart disease, suggesting other significant risk factors are at play. For the study, researchers from the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, CA, analysed data from the Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study. They found that the risk of SCA was increased by 2.3-fold for people who had the lowest blood calcium levels (under 8.95 milligrams per deciliter). More importantly, this risk remained after confounding factors, including demographics, cardiovascular risk factors and medication use, were accounted for. Dr. Hon-Chi Lee, of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, said: “This is the first report to show that low serum calcium levels measured close in time to the index event are independently associated with an increased risk of SCA in the general population”.
Around 620,000 people in the UK are living with a faulty gene which places them at an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease or sudden death, a charity has warned. To make matters even worse, most of them are totally unaware. According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), the number of people with the faulty gene hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is 100,000 higher than originally thought and could be even higher still in reality. Every week in the UK, approximately 12 seemingly healthy individuals aged 35 or under suffer a sudden cardiac arrest with no explanation. The cause is predominantly undiagnosed heart conditions. The prevalence of inherited conditions is becoming better known, however, the charity warned that as yet undiscovered faulty genes and under-diagnoses mean the real scale is inevitably unknown. A child of someone who has an inherited heart condition has a 50% chance of inheriting it themselves too. Nevertheless, research has helped to uncover many of the faulty genes that cause inherited heart conditions and structured genetic testing services have been developed as a result. However, the medical director of the BHF, Prof Sir Nilesh Samani, said that more research is urgently needed. "If undetected and untreated, inherited heart conditions can be deadly and they continue to devastate families, often by taking away loved ones without warning. "We urgently need to fund more research to better understand these heart conditions, make more discoveries, develop new treatments and save more lives."
A new study has found that men are much more likely to suffer a cardiac arrest than women. In fact, around one in nine men will have their heart stop suddenly before the age of 70, compared to around one in 30 women. The study researchers said that by the age of 45, men have almost an 11% lifetime risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Women of the same age have just a 3% risk. According to Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of preventive medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago, approximately 450,000 Americans die from sudden cardiac arrest each year, and most never have any of the usual symptoms associated with a heart problem. He explained that because heart disease tends to develop earlier in men than in women, more serious screening for risk factors in the male population needs to be undertaken. Smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes are all major cardiac arrest risk factors. "Know your numbers, especially your blood pressure, but also know your cholesterol or whether you have diabetes," said Dr. Lloyd-Jones. "At 50, men should also have a baseline electrocardiogram, which might reveal heart problems," he added. For the study, Dr. Lloyd-Jones and his colleagues analysed data on more than 5,200 men and women between the ages of 28 and 62 who took part in the long-running Framingham Heart Study.
CORONARY ARTERY BYPASS SURGERY Our hearts are amazing organs. They beat literally thousands of times a day, every day, for our entire lives. That’s why it’s important that we take good care of our hearts and give them the best possible chance of staying healthy. However, our hearts sometimes run into trouble and the only course of action is to let a surgeon put them right. This is especially true in the case of a blocked artery and a coronary artery bypass is needed. And if you’re reading this it’s because you are looking for more information about coronary artery bypass surgery in France. If so, we’re here to help! With our extensive network of around 120 hospitals and more than 1,500 highly experienced medical specialists across France, we are in the best position to facilitate your coronary artery bypass procedure. But what is a coronary artery bypass? It’s a surgical procedure that looks to create a bypass around a specific part of blocked artery in your heart. There are a number of reasons why a blockage in the artery may occur but the most prominent is due to the build-up of fatty deposits. These usually occur as a result of a high fat, high cholesterol diet. How is it performed? Your surgeon will look to alleviate a narrowed or blocked artery by using a healthy blood vessel taken from your leg, arm, chest or abdomen. This is then connected to the other arteries in your heart creating a bypass around the blocked section. Blood flow to the heart is inevitably improved and your chances of cardiac arrest are significantly reduced. How long does the procedure take? Coronary artery bypass surgery usually takes between three and six hours. It requires a general anaesthetic and surgeons often repair, on average, two or four arteries. Traditional coronary bypass surgery is performed through a long incision down the front of the patient’s chest. However, minimally invasive surgery – performed through a smaller incision with the help of video imaging - is now a common option and one which can afford speedier recovery times and reduce the cosmetic impact of surgery. What happens after the surgery? Due to the severity of the surgery, it is inevitable to spend one or two days in intensive care while your medical team monitors your vital signs. However, providing there are no complications, coronary artery bypass patients are usually discharged from hospital within a week. Finally, why France? Because the French healthcare system is one of the absolute best in the world. Furthermore, with France Surgery’s assistance, any potential international barriers are removed and you’re taken care of in the best possible way. So if you’re looking for an affordable coronary artery bypass procedure; without the long waits often experienced in other countries; and which is performed by a highly experienced surgeon, contact us today for a personalised quotation.