The amount a heart “bleeds” following a heart attack can predict the severity of future heart failure, according to UK researchers.
Bruising in the heart affects over 40% of myocardial infarction patients. Researchers have now found that it is associated with a higher risk of developing heart failure in the following months.
“This exciting research has found a new characteristic related to heart attacks”
The British Heart Foundation-funded study found that bleeding was linked to a 2.6 times greater risk of adverse remodelling, where the heart muscle changes shape – a precursor to heart failure. It was also linked to a six times greater risk of either death or heart failure following a heart attack.
In addition, the researchers 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.
They said the information would be useful to clinicians 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 myocardial infarction and the subsequent onset of heart failure, they said.
Hearts bleed can predict future heart failure risk
Lead study author Professor Colin Berry, from the University of Glasgow, said the research findings had provided a “new understanding of heart muscle injury and how it develops”.
“We can now focus our research on developing new treatments to reduce the level of this injury following a heart attack,” he said.
He added: “The study has also presented a new way of identifying those at a higher risk of heart failure before the condition develops. This knowledge can be used to identify those most in need of interventions and monitoring earlier.”
Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This exciting research has found a new characteristic related to heart attacks, which could be used to treat people following a heart attack, to cut their risk of developing heart failure.
The study was presented today at the British Cardiovascular Conference, in Manchester.