3D virtual heart tool to predict risk cardiac death


When electrical waves in the heart run amok in a condition called arrhythmia, sudden death can occur, researchers said.To save the life of a patient at risk, doctors currently implant a small defibrillator to sense the onset of arrhythmia and jolt the heart back to a normal rhythm.However, it is difficult to decide which patients truly need the invasive, costly electrical implant.”Our virtual heart test significantly outperformed several existing clinical metrics in predicting future arrhythmic events,” said Natalia Trayanova from Johns Hopkins University in the US.

“This non-invasive and personalised virtual heart-risk assessment could help prevent sudden cardiac deaths and allow patients who are not at risk to avoid unnecessary defibrillator implantations,” said Trayanova.Researchers formed its predictions by using the distinctive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) records of patients who had survived a heart attack but were left with damaged cardiac tissue that predisposes the heart to deadly arrhythmias.The study involved data from 41 patients who had survived a heart attack and had an ejection fraction — a measure of how much blood is being pumped out of the heart — of less than 35 per cent.In some cases, the virtual heart developed an arrhythmia, and in others it did not. The result, a non-invasive way to gauge the risk of sudden cardiac death due to arrhythmia, was dubbed VARP, short for virtual-heart arrhythmia risk predictor, researchers said.The method allowed the researchers to factor in the geometry of the patient’s heart, the way electrical waves move through it and the impact of scar tissue left by the earlier heart attack.

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