Research conducted by scientists from the MRC's Clinical Sciences Centre at Imperial College London suggests that it might be possible to recognise early signs of heart disease by examining detailed images of the heart. The research is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
People with high blood pressure develop changes in their hearts before symptoms even appear. Such changes put them at risk of dying early. By using specialised MRI scans, the researchers created a 3D map of the hearts of 1500 people. They used computer technology to explore the heart and establish changes to its shape and function due to increasing blood pressure. Even a small increase in blood pressure results in a thickening of the heart muscle.
Lead author for the study, Dr Declan O’Regan says, “New 3D imaging technology lets researchers look at the living heart in amazing detail. The risk of high blood pressure is well known, but these scans show the earliest signs of damage to the heart may begin in completely healthy people. This suggests that any increase in our blood pressure may put greater strain on the heart.”