Predicting when a heart attack will occur accurately

April 28th, 2009 - 3:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 28 (IANS) Thanks to new research by Sharon Zlochiver, a biomedical engineer at Tel Aviv University (TAU), there’s hope for potential heart attack victims. Zlochiver can not only predict when a heart attack will occur, but he can also help doctors and patients buy time before a deadly attack takes place.
“Seventy percent of the heart is made up of myocytes, which are contractile muscle cells. The remaining 30 percent is mostly rigid structural cells called fibroblasts that work to hold the muscle in place,” Zlochiver explained.

“As the heart ages and contends with factors such as high blood pressure or genetic disease, this balance begins to change,” he said.

Through the course of his research, initiated at Michigan University, Zlochiver developed a maths model that shows when the proportion of structural fibroblast cells are at dangerous levels, at approximately 70 percent of the heart’s volume. This is the “tipping point” where a heart attack is imminent, said Zlochiver.

The problem has been that these cells are not apparently differentiated from one another, which presented a challenge for Zlochiver. Though a regular electrocardiogram (EKG) could not give the information he sought, Zlochiver was determined to see how the cell ratio within the heart could be measured by electrical activity.

Studying the electric coupling - tiny electric signals - between myocytes and fibroblast cells, he was able to paint a more accurate picture of a heart’s health more than what could be deduced from an MRI or CT scan, said a TAU release.

Zlochiver’s research will no doubt alter the way cardiac arrest is diagnosed and treated.

His research was published in the Biophysical Journal.

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