It's possible to use the amount a heart bleeds after a heart attack to determine the severity of future heart failure, a new study has suggested.
The findings, presented at the British Cardiovascular Conference in Manchester, were determined by researchers at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Scotland and the University of Glasgow.
Led by Professor Colin Berry from the University of Glasgow, the team found that this bleeding could be associated with a higher risk of developing heart failure in the months after a heart attack.
They also identified a test that can accurately measure this when someone has a heart attack, to help doctors predict the future risk for patients.
The team found that the test could be used as soon as someone has started treatment for a heart attack and is able to determine whether there is or isn't muscle bleeding in the organ. It can then measure the risk of future heart failure, meaning doctors could easily identify patients that need more intensive medical intervention.
It's estimated that bleeding, also called bruising, in the heart affects around 40 per cent of people who experience a heart attack. The findings show that this can be associated with a higher risk of developing organ failure shortly after the trauma.
The study, funded by the British Heart Foundation, also found that there was a 2.6 times greater risk of adverse remodelling, where the heart muscle changes shape, in people with bleeding hearts. This can lead to heart failure in a number of cases if treatment is not sought.
More than half a million people in the UK are currently living with heart failure, with heart attacks being the most common cause as they inflict irreparable damage on the organ, triggering heart failure.
In addition, some 188,000 hospital admissions are because of heart attacks in the UK and although 70 per cent of these will now survive, a significant number will be left with heart failure.
It is hoped that these findings will lead to innovative new treatment to prevent bleeding after a heart attack, reducing the number of people who suffer heart failure.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said heart failure is incurable and can cause a reduced quality of life and a lower life expectancy. However, this "exciting research" has identified a new characteristic of heart attacks that could be used to reduce the risk of developing heart failure, he added.
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