Scientists designed an advanced MRI for stiff heart syndrome – Innovita Research

Scientists designed an advanced MRI for stiff heart syndrome

Stiff heart syndrome describes a condition when the heart muscle thickens due to high blood pressure. The muscle can become so thick and so stiff that the heart cannot pump blood efficiently anymore, which leads to fluid build-up and even congestive heart failure.

Stiff heart syndrome is caused by buildup of plaques of protein called amyloid in heart muscle and now scientists have designed a better way to measure them.

Stiff heart disease is deadly and it is very difficult to monitor. But a new MRI technique could revolutionise stiff heart disease treatment. Image credit: Pexels via Wikimedia

Stiff heart syndrome, also known as light-chain cardiac amyloidosis, is a difficult condition to assess, because there was no safe way to measure the buildup of amyloid buildup in heart muscle. However, scientists at UCL have spent the past 10 years developing and refining Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (CMR) Extracellular Volume Mapping (ECV) for amyloid. It is a non-invasive MRI procedure, which will allow doctors to measure both the presence and amount of amyloid protein in heart muscle.

In this new study 176 patients with a stiff heart syndrome had CMR and ECV done for amyloid in the heart. The first diagnostic run was done at the beginning and then at six, 12 and 24 months after starting chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is the normal first line treatment for this condition. Scientists found that this advanced MRI technique allowed them to measure amyloid protein in the heart and monitor its changes through the repeated scans over time.

For example, these tests showed that 40 % of study participants  had a substantial improvement (reduction) in amyloid deposition, which showed that chemotherapy was working. In cases when chemotherapy wasn’t working, clinicians had an opportunity to adjust the treatment very quickly as the MRI was providing accurate data about the progression of the condition and the treatment.

Dr Ana Martinez-Naharro, first author of the study, said: “The scans and data made available using this technique, gave us the information to both see the amount of amyloid protein and also the regression in amyloid during the course of chemotherapy treatment. This is incredibly valuable for clinicians; knowing the amount, rather than just the presence of amyloid, means they can better guide treatment option, by more accurately deciding timing and protocol of second line chemotherapy treatments.”

Because MRI is already widely available, scientists believe that CMR and ECV could be implemented quite quickly. It could become a very important tool fighting stiff heart syndrome.



Source: UCL