Tag Archives: blood clots

Non-invasive imaging detects dangerous blood clots

  • 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.

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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.

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Heart attacks, heart failure, stroke: COVID-19’s dangerous cardiovascular complications

Like the gift that keeps on giving, COVID-19 is the plague that keeps on taking. It turns out that the affliction can cause complications with other medical conditions.

COVID-19 can cause serious cardiovascular complications including heart failure, heart attacks and blood clots that can lead to strokes, emergency medicine doctors report in a new scientific paper. They also caution that COVID-19 treatments can interact with medicines used to manage patients’ existing cardiovascular conditions.

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The new paper from UVA Health’s William Brady, MD, and colleagues aims to serve as a guide for emergency-medicine doctors treating patients who may have or are known to have COVID-19. The authors note that much attention has been paid to the pulmonary (breathing) complications of COVID-19, but less has been said about the cardiovascular complications that can lead to death or lasting impairment. Continue reading

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What Are Blood Clots and When Are They Dangerous?

Clots are most likely to form when the flow of blood through the veins is slowed, such as when sitting in a chair for long periods of time, or when confined to bed. Those at greater risk for developing blood clots are the elderly, smokers, those who have recently had surgery to the hips or knees, pregnant women, women who use oral contraceptives or HRT, and those who are immobile due to illness, travel or surgery. Long plane flights are a well-known contributor to episodes of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), due to the extended periods of immobility imposed on passengers.

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The ability for blood to clot evolved as a mechanism for keeping us from bleeding to death when we receive minor injuries. People with the genetic condition hemophilia lack the substance in their blood that spurs it to clot. This can lead to death at a young age due to Close-up of red blood cells and germshemorrhage. When we first receive a cut, platelets in our blood collect at the site to form a temporary barrier. Then these platelets send out chemical signals that cause the blood’s clotting factors to replace the platelets with fibrin, which is tougher and more durable than the platelet barrier. When the bleeding is sufficiently stopped, anti-clotting proteins are then released that stop the clot from growing larger and spreading.

However, sometimes blood clots develop in an abnormal fashion or break off and travel to other parts of the body where they can cause serious medical problems, such as a stroke…

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