Monday April 22, 2019

Why Heart Function is Reduced at High Altitude Decoded

The findings will be important for people who live, travel and exercise at high altitudes

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Why Heart Function is Reduced at High Altitude Decoded
Why Heart Function is Reduced at High Altitude Decoded. Pixabay

Low amount of oxygen at moutain peaks decreases the volume of blood circulating around the body, and increases blood pressure in the lungs, resulting in reduced heart function at high altitudes, say researchers.

However, the researchers also found that while both these factors impact blood flow, it surprisingly does not impact the body’s ability to exercise to its fullest extent.

The findings will be important for people who live, travel and exercise at high altitudes.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The research improves our understanding of how the human body adapts to high altitude areas and will help us make exploration and tourism of Earth’s mountainous regions safer, and may also help facilitate exercise performance in a wide range of sporting events that take place at high altitude, said researchers led by Michael Stembridge, from the Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales, Britain

“We hope to apply the findings of this work to help improve the health and well-being of these populations by furthering our understanding of the condition and exploring therapeutic targets,” he said.

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Many people who visit high altitudes suffer from “Chronic Mountain Sickness”, which occurs when there is lower oxygen pressure present. It results in shortness of breath, headache, and a fast heartbeat.

For the research, published in The Journal of Physiology, the team collected data of a small group on how the heart and pulmonary blood vessels adapt to life with less oxygen.

The researchers and participants conducted the study during two weeks at a remote research facility in California.

Furthermore, echocardiography was used to assess cardiac and pulmonary vascular function which is non-invasive and indirect. (IANS)

Next Story

Researchers Develop, New Adhesive Patch That Can Minimize Heart Attack Damage

For the research, published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, the team tested the patch with rats and showed that the patch could be effective in reducing post-heart attack damage. 

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Heart
The researchers said the patch, which costs "less than a penny", has been optimised using a computer model of the heart to perfectly match the material's mechanical properties. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a new adhesive patch that could reduce the stretching of cardiac muscle following a heart attack.

Developed by a team of researchers from Brown University, US; Fudan University, China and Soochow University, China, the patch is made from a water-based hydrogel material and can be placed directly on the heart to prevent left ventricular remodelling — a stretching of the heart muscle.

A heart attack puts the cardiac muscle at a risk of stretching out that can reduce the functioning of the heart’s main pumping chamber.

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The researchers say the initial results are promising for eventual use in human clinical trials. Pixabay

“Part of the reason that it’s hard for the heart to recover after a heart attack is that it has to keep pumping,” said co-author Huajian Gao, a professor at Brown University.

“The idea here is to provide mechanical support for damaged tissue, which hopefully gives it a chance to heal,” he added.

The researchers said the patch, which costs “less than a penny”, has been optimised using a computer model of the heart to perfectly match the material’s mechanical properties.

“If the material is too hard or stiff, then you could confine the movement of the heart so that it can’t expand to the volume it needs to,” Gao said.

“But if the material is too soft, then it won’t provide enough support. So we needed some mechanical principles to guide us,” he pointed out.

For the research, published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, the team tested the patch with rats and showed that the patch could be effective in reducing post-heart attack damage.

heart
A heart attack puts the cardiac muscle at a risk of stretching out that can reduce the functioning of the heart’s main pumping chamber. Pixabay

“The patch provided nearly optimal mechanical supports after myocardial infarction (i.e. massive death of cardiomyocytes),” said co-author Ning Sun, a cardiology researcher at Fudan University.

“[It] maintained a better cardiac output and thus greatly reduced the overload of those remaining cardiomyocytes and adverse cardiac remodelling.”

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The researchers say the initial results are promising for eventual use in human clinical trials.

“It remains to be seen if it will work in humans, but it’s very promising,” Gao said. (IANS)