Investigators have developed and tested a targeted contrast agent that can detect blood clots in the hearts of patients with atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat.
The strategy could be used to find clots in other parts of the body as well, such as in vessels that, when blocked, can lead to stroke.
Atrial fibrillation—an irregular and often rapid heart rate—is a common condition that can cause clots to form in the heart that may then dislodge and flow to the brain, potentially leading to a stroke. The standard way to detect these clots requires patients to be sedated and to have a fairly large tube inserted down the throat and esophagus for a transesophageal ultrasound. Investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have now developed and tested a targeted contrast agent to detect and image these clots noninvasively. They verified the potential of this strategy in a study published in JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging.
The agent has a strong affinity for fibrin, a component of blood clots, and is detected with a radioactive copper tag. “The idea behind the technology is that the agent will find and bind to blood clots anywhere in the body—not just in the heart—and make the clots detectable like a bright star in the night sky,” says senior author David Sosnovik, MD, FACC, director of the Program in Cardiovascular Imaging within MGH’s Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and an associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “In some ways this is analogous to doing a smart search with a search engine such as Google, where the search terms one uses guide the search. We inject the agent into a small peripheral vein and it circulates throughout the human body on its search for clots.” If it doesn’t find any clots, then it’s rapidly excreted from the body; however, if it finds a clot and binds to it, clinicians can detect it with an imaging technique known as positron emission tomography.
Sosnovik and his colleagues first examined how the agent reacts (specifically, its metabolism and pharmacokinetics) in eight healthy volunteers. After injection, the agent was initially stable within the body and then was cleared from tissues within several hours, suggesting that it was safe. Next, the team administered the agent to patients with atrial fibrillation, some with clots in the heart and some without. Imaging tests of the heart revealed bright signals within the clots that were not seen in patients without clots.
A single glass of wine can quickly – significantly – raise the drinker’s risk for atrial fibrillation, according to new research by UC San Francisco.
The study provides the first evidence that alcohol consumption substantially increases the chance of the heart rhythm condition occurring within a few hours. The findings might run counter to a prevailing perception that alcohol can be “cardioprotective,” say the authors, suggesting that reducing or avoiding alcohol might help mitigate harmful effects.
“Contrary to a common belief that atrial fibrillation is associated with heavy alcohol consumption, it appears that even one alcohol drink may be enough to increase the risk,” said Gregory Marcus, MD, MAS, professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology at UCSF.
“Our results show that the occurrence of atrial fibrillation might be neither random nor unpredictable,” he said. “Instead, there may be identifiable and modifiable ways of preventing an acute heart arrhythmia episode.”
How many times and how many ways do we have to hear that keeping our weight under control and being physically active are good for us? Eat less; move more; live longer.
Weight loss, regular physical activity and other lifestyle changes are effective yet underused strategies that should be added to optimize management of atrial fibrillation (an abnormal heart rhythm), according to “Lifestyle and Risk Factor Modification for Reduction of Atrial Fibrillation,” a new Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association published in the Association’s flagship journal Circulation.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an abnormal heart rhythm that affects at least 2.7 million people in the United States and is increasing as the population grows older. In AF, the upper chambers of the heart, called the atria, beat rapidly and erratically, interfering with proper movement of blood through the chambers, which can allow blood clots to form. Parts of these clots can break off and flow to the brain, causing an ischemic stroke. People who have AF have a five-fold greater risk of having a stroke compared to people without the condition.
To reduce stroke risk in their patients, health professionals use medications or procedures to regulate the heart rate, prevent abnormal heart rhythms (AF) and reduce blood clotting. Continue reading →
Here is a link that does not immediately jump to your mind. Brushing teeth frequently is linked with lower risks of atrial fibrillation and heart failure, according to a study published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology.
Previous research suggests that poor oral hygiene leads to bacteria in the blood, causing inflammation in the body. Inflammation increases the risks of atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) and heart failure (the heart’s ability to pump blood or relax and fill with blood is impaired). This study examined the connection between oral hygiene and occurrence of these two conditions. Continue reading →