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14 February 2024

New technique investigated for diagnoses of heart conditions

King’s researchers have characterised a new technique for diagnosing and evaluating several cardiac conditions involving excess iron.

sci-fi illustration of a anatomical heart

In the most serious heart attacks, there is the potential for blood to leak into the heart muscle where it can form iron deposits that can lead to heart failure. While there are existing methods for detecting iron build up in the heart, a range of other conditions that are associated with heart attacks can influence these methods.

In a recent study a new technique called cardiac quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM) was used for evaluating the build up of excess iron.

QSM was shown to successfully visualise iron deposits and has the potential to improve diagnosis by reducing sensitivity to other conditions.

This work takes an important step towards translating QSM to the clinic by characterising its performance in the heart in healthy controls and patients before demonstrating the detection of these iron deposits in patients with heart attacks.

Dr Andrew Tyler, Research Associate, School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Science

The specificity of QSM for iron will enable researchers to continue to explore novel therapies and has the potential for different clinical scenarios.

This technique will pave the avenue for a more comprehensive fully quantitative investigation of the ischaemia-reperfusion damage in patients who have suffered a severe heart attack, known as a ST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction.

Dr Pier Giorgio Masci, consultant cardiologist

While challenges remain, further clinical evaluation of the technique is now warranted.

Read the full paper here.

In this story

Andrew Tyler

Research Associate

Consultant Cardiologist