Edinburgh study could identify potentially fatal artery damage

25 June 2018        

Category: Research

BHF Professor David Newby

Professor David NewbyPeople living with potentially fatal damage to their aorta could be helped by the findings of research we're funding.

Researchers at the BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science at the University of Edinburgh have been awarded a grant to investigate instances of acute aortic syndrome (AAS) using pioneering imaging techniques.

The aorta is the main blood vessel carrying oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body and the brain. AAS describes a group of life-threatening conditions affecting the aorta, which can cause it to become weak and rupture, an event which is often fatal.

Life-threatening complications

BHF Professor of Cardiology David Newby has received £260,591 to fund a three-year clinical research training fellowship, which will be taken up by Dr Maaz Syed. He will use a highly specialised scanning technique called positron emission tomography (PET) to monitor the progression of AAS in patients with a damaged aorta. The images will allow researchers to check whether the aorta is expanding. This research can help predict which patients will need to have surgery to repair their aorta before they develop life-threatening complications.


Professor Newby said: “If the aorta ruptures, the consequences for the patient are catastrophic. However, AAS is unpredictable. At the moment, we can’t accurately anticipate how patients will progress or whether their aorta will rupture.

“By using PET scanning, we hope to predict which patients might come to harm by highlighting damaged areas of the aorta. We can then follow these individuals to see if their aorta expands, and monitor their progress to improve outcomes. The research will improve our understanding of this often devastating and deadly condition.”

James Cant, BHF Scotland Director said: “Thanks to research and medical advances funded by the BHF, more people than ever before are surviving heart and circulatory disease. That’s why we need to keep funding research into conditions like AAS, which can cause serious illness or death without warning.

“Thanks to pioneering research funded by the BHF in Scotland’s capital, we can really make a difference to people living with this condition.”

Our life saving scientific research is funded purely by fundraising, donations and legacies and around £70m is currently being spent on almost 150 projects in Scotland.

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