New wire can test for heart failure

8 June 2015        

Surgeons with patient

Research presented today at the annual British Cardiovascular Society Conference has proven that a wire inserted into an artery which supplies blood to the heart, called a coronary artery, after someone has a heart attack can predict if they will go on to develop heart failure. 

There are around 175,000 heart attacks in the UK each year – that’s one every three minutes. For those who survive a heart attack there is a risk that the heart will have been damaged and this can lead to heart failure. Heart failure can have a huge impact on a person’s life, leaving them tired, short of breath and unable to do simple tasks like walk or take a shower by themselves. Early treatment following a heart attack can reduce the chance of heart failure and improve a person’s wellbeing and chances of survival.

After a suspected heart attack, a patient is routinely given a coronary angiogram to identify any narrowed blood vessels. An angiogram visualises the affected blood vessels using a catheter threaded towards the heart from a distant blood vessel in the arm or leg. Currently, cardiologists make treatment decisions based on this standard assessment technique but it can only identify narrowed vessels and cannot tell the doctor if, or how much, heart blood vessel damage has occurred.

New research

The study, led by Professor Colin Berry from the University of Glasgow and funded by us uses a pressure- and temperature-sensitive wire, inserted into someone’s coronary artery, which can be used to accurately work out the extent of vessel injury in the heart. They discovered that this test – known as the index of microvascular resistance or IMR – can be used to predict if someone is likely to go on to develop heart failure or even die. 

The wire technique can be used to work out the level of damage to the arteries in a matter of minutes. This allows doctors to quickly and accurately identify patients who are at a high risk of heart failure after their heart attack based on the damage to their arteries.

Your donations allow us to fund world class research like this but we need the UK Government to do their bit. We’re calling on the UK Government to maintain the current ringfenced science budget and commit to future increases.