Novel technology makes screening cheaper and much easier.
Engineers at UC San Diego have determined for the first time the impact of a ring-shaped vortex on transporting blood flow in normal and abnormal ventricles within the human heart. They worked with cardiologists at the Non-Invasive Cardiology Laboratory at Gregorio Marañon Hospital, in Madrid, Spain.
In order to make the study possible, researchers have developed a novel ultrasound technology that makes screening cheaper and much easier, making it possible to reach a large number of people and even infants. Intra-ventricular flow imaging is currently done with MRI scans, which is expensive and not suitable for patients with implanted devices such as pacemakers.
The findings could have an impact on the tests and measurements that physicians rely on to diagnose and treat two heart conditions: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick, and non-ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy, in which the heart’s ability to pump blood decreases as the organ’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, is enlarged and its muscle thinned.
Nearly one million Americans suffer from either one of these conditions.
So far, physicians only take into consideration the geometry of the left ventricle and the thickness and contractility of its walls when they assess how the heart fills itself with blood. But the way the blood flows into the heart’s chambers is important too, researchers argue. “This isn’t like toothpaste coming out of a tube,” said Juan Carlos del Alamo, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego, who led a multidisciplinary team for this study, together with postdoctoral researcher Pablo Martinez-Legazpi and Dr. Javier Bermejo’s group of cardiologists at Gregorio Marañon Hospital.
They reported their findings in the Oct. 21 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.