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Advanced blood analysis may speed diagnosis of heart attacks
Date:9/9/2008

technique called septal ablation pioneered by Michael Fifer, MD, of MGH Cardiology that destroys the excess tissue, a scenario that mimics the damage that happens to heart muscle when its blood supply is cut off. Taking blood samples before and after patients receive this procedure provides a unique window into metabolic changes that occur in response to the death of myocardial tissue, allowing study participants to act as their own controls.

The researchers analyzed blood samples from 36 patients taken before and at several time points after septal ablation. Using an advanced mass spectrometry system that can assess hundreds of metabolites in as little as 10 minutes, they were able to identify several that significantly changed right after the ablation process, a time period during which currently available markers remained unchanged. The changes seen in the first 10 minutes persisted an hour later, and analysis of blood from veins in the coronary circulation confirmed that the heart was the source of the changes.

Comparing the results of these 'planned' heart attacks with blood samples from patients with spontaneous coronary blockages found four metabolites that increased in response to ablation and also were elevated in patients with true heart attacks, confirming them as markers of myocardial damage. The researchers also examined whether these newly identified metabolites had any effect on the response of cultured animal heart cells to reduced oxygen and found that one metabolite increased cell death, while two others decreased it, possibly identifying a pathway for future therapies.

"This work is proof of principle that this new technology will work for diagnosis and may also help us find new targets for therapeutic intervention. Someday we may be able to reverse the damage from a heart attack with a 'cocktail' of protective metabolites," explains Gerszten, who is an associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical Scho
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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