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Detecting deadly heart condition sooner

Combining two types of heart scan could help doctors to detect a deadly heart condition before symptoms and signs on conventional tests appear, new research co-led by the University of Leeds shows.

The study shows that hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a leading cause of heart failure and sudden cardiac death, can be identified by using the two scanning techniques to look at heart muscle cells in patients with a genetic link to the condition but no overt symptoms.

Affecting around 1 in 500 people in the UK, the inherited condition causes the muscular walls of the heart to become thicker than normal, impacting the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body. It is currently diagnosed after the appearance of symptoms including dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath and temporary loss of consciousness.

The study, published in the journal Circulation and funded by the British Heart Foundation, was carried out by researchers from Leeds, University College London and Barts Heart Centre. They say it offers an unprecedented opportunity to improve treatment for the condition at the earliest stages.

Being able to detect HCM earlier than ever before will also assist trials investigating gene therapies and drug treatments aimed at stopping the disease developing in those at risk.

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