Posted: Tue 24th Sep 2019

Alyn and Deeside AM visit to biomedical labs at forefront of research into acute heart condition

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Sep 24th, 2019

British Heart Foundation research into heart and circulatory diseases has caught the attention of Alyn and Deeside Assembly Member Jack Sargeant. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Jack Sargeant AM, met with a British Heart Foundation (BHF) funded lead researcher, Dr Riaz Akhtar at the University of Liverpool on Monday. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Heart and circulatory diseases cause around 26 deaths each day in Wales. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

BHF is the biggest independent funder of medical research into all heart and circulatory diseases and their risk factors.  ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Mr Sargeant took a tour of the project’s biomedical engineering laboratories to learn more about Dr Akhtar’s research to detect Acute Type A aortic dissection (AAD) before it’s too late. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Aortic dissection is a rare but serious condition in which there is a tear in the wall of the aorta, the major artery carrying blood out of the heart. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

As the tear extends along the wall of the aorta, blood can flow in between the layers of the blood vessel wall. This can lead to aortic rupture or decreased blood flow (ischemia) to organs, which can be fatal. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The effects are frequently fatal, causing death in otherwise healthy and often middle-aged people. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Dr Riaz Akhtar – who is at the forefront of current research into AAD – along with colleagues study aortic tissue from people with AAD and analyse their structure and evaluate their stiffness and elasticity. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

They will compare these findings to tissue from people who do not have the condition. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

They will look for extremely fine changes in the tissue stiffness and composition to try to find new clues into the process of AAD. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

This research has the potential to lead to new methods for early detection of AAD risk. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Dr Riaz Akhtar said: BHF funding enables the research team to carry out detailed investigations into the biological processes in the aorta that lead to AAD. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

These processes are not well understood, and the only indicator of risk that doctors can use is the presence of an aortic aneurysm (bulge). ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

But AAD may occur even when the aorta looks normal, so a better way to detect it is urgently needed.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Jack Sargeant AM said: “I’m pleased to be here to find out more about the research BHF funds in the UK.  ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Cardiac research is hugely important and offers benefits to patients such as evidence based best practice and a clearer understanding of the causes of heart conditions.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

 Adam Fletcher, Head of BHF Cymru, added: “The research we fund at the University of Liverpool is a good example of the BHF’s contribution to the transformation of laboratory science in to potentially lifesaving diagnosis for patients. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

This project is just one of over 1,000 BHF-funded research projects in Wales and across the UK, seeking to make breakthroughs across all aspects of heart and circulatory disease.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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