Scientists have produced the first images of a heart attack taken from inside a human
The team from Imperial College say their breakthrough could radically improve treatment for victims of heart attacks.
It allows doctors to see just how much internal bleeding is occurring in the patient, and means more effective treatment can be given.
For the new study, researchers captured images of bleeding inside the heart in 15 patients from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust who had recently suffered a heart attack, using Magnetic Resonance Imaging machines.
Computer analysis of the MRI scans revealed that the amount of bleeding can indicate how damaged a person’s heart is after suffering an attack.
‘Our study gives us a new insight into the damage that heart attacks can cause,’ said Dr Declan O’Regan, who led the study.
‘This new scanning technique shows us that patients who develop bleeding inside their damaged heart muscle have a much poorer chance of recovery. We hope this will help us to identify which patients are at most risk of complications following their heart attack.’
Heart disease is Britain’s biggest killer; every six minutes someone dies following a heart attack. Heart attacks happen when an artery feeding blood to the heart becomes blocked, depriving the heart muscle of oxygen.
Currently, most people treated for a heart attack are fitted with a metal tube called a stent to keep the blocked artery clear.
Recent research has shown that some people experience bleeding inside the heart muscle once blood starts to pump into it again.
Dr Stuart Cook, from the Medical Research Council’s Clinical Sciences Centre at Imperial College London, said: ‘The more we understand about what happens during and after a heart attack, the greater the chances are of scientists finding new ways to combat the damage that heart attacks cause.’