The amount a heart “bleeds” following a heart attack can predict the severity of future heart failure, according to research presented this week at the British Cardiovascular Conference, in Manchester, U.K..
Bleeding, or bruising in the heart, affects over 40 percent of people who suffer from a heart attack and researchers have found that this injury is associated with a higher risk of developing heart failure in the following months.
There are 188,000 hospital episodes attributed to heart attack in the U.K. each year: That’s one around every three minutes. Although around seven out of 10 people now survive a heart attack, many are left with heart failure.
The British Heart Foundation-funded study found that bleeding was linked to a 2.6 times greater risk of adverse remodeling, where the heart muscle changes shape, which is a precursor to heart failure. It is also linked to a six times greater risk of either death or heart failure following a heart attack.
The researchers also validated a test for use at the time of heart attack treatment to rule-in or rule-out heart muscle bleeding, and the likelihood of survival free of heart failure. This information would be useful to doctors to identify patients who are at risk of adverse outcome for more intensive treatment. The findings will pave the way to find new treatments to prevent bleeding following a heart attack and the subsequent onset of heart failure.
MRI imaging, a non-invasive scan, can be used after a heart attack to monitor heart muscle bleeding, which happens in phases. The first phase is in the 12 hours following a heart attack, and the second takes place within two to three days. This provides a window of opportunity to introduce treatments to prevent the second phase of bleeding, which could reduce or prevent the later onset of heart failure.
More than half a million people in the U.K. are living with heart failure. The most common cause of heart failure is a heart attack, which causes irreparable damage to the heart and leads to heart failure. The condition can leave people disabled with a poor quality of life, unable to do simple everyday tasks such as climb the stairs or going shopping.
More information about the British Cardiovascular Society Conference is available at www.bcs.com/conference.