British surgeons are all set to conduct
the world’s first ‘heart shrinking’ trial in humans
aimed at combating cardiac failure.
The technique will involve electrically stimulating
one of the nerves leading to the heart, which it is
hoped could shrink the heart and improve life
expectancy, says a team at the Liverpool Heart and Chest
Hospital and The Royal Liverpool University Hospital.
The first patient will be operated on next week,
after the technique was shown to keep rats and dogs
alive for longer, the BBC reported.
As the heart loses its ability to pump, it fills
with too much blood and becomes stretched over time. The
more the heart enlarges, the worse the symptoms. So,
surgeons hope to reverse the damage.
They will fit a device — similar to a pacemaker — to
the vagus nerve which runs to the heart. Surgeons say
that the electrical stimulation should “protect the
heart” from the effects of the hormone adrenaline.
Adrenaline makes the heart pump harder and faster;
this is one of the body’s responses to heart failure —
but doctors say it becomes toxic over time and damages
the heart further.
The idea is that by shielding the heart, it’ll stop
enlarging and begin to shrink, say the surgeons.
Dr Jay Wright, a consultant cardiologist at
Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, said, “We’re hoping
it will shrink the heart, but it might not be to normal
size.” He said shrinkage “would lead to improvement in
symptoms — we know that the bigger the heart the worse
Nearly 100 patients will take part in the trial at
30 hospitals around the world.
The first will be Carl Jordan, who used to be a
paramedic. He has had several heart attacks which have
damaged his heart, causing it to become enlarged.
Sunlight can cut heart attack risk Scientists claim to
have come up with a new way to prevent as well as treat
heart attacks — by using intense light. “The study
suggests that strong light, or even just daylight, might
ease the risk of having a heart attack or suffering
damage from one,” said Tobias Eckle, who led a team at
the University of Colorado. The link between heart
attacks and light is explained through the working of
the circadian rhythm or the body’s clock , which is
regulated by proteins in the brain. The scientists found
that one of those proteins, called Period 2, plays a
crucial role in fending off damage from a heart attack,
and strong daylight activates Period 2 in animals and
minimized damage from a heart attack.