Monday, April 17, 2017

Miracles and Wonders: Predicting and fixing broken hearts

Just a few of the discoveries coming out of the labs.

Computers predict heart disease. Self-taught artificial intelligence beats doctors at predicting heart attacks. Scientists have shown that computers capable of teaching themselves can perform even better than standard medical guidelines, significantly increasing prediction rates. If implemented, the new method could save thousands or even millions of lives a year.

Many doctors use guidelines similar to those of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA). Those are based on eight risk factors—including age, cholesterol level, and blood pressure—that physicians effectively add up. Researchers ompared use of the ACC/AHA guidelines with four machine-learning algorithms. All four analyze lots of data in order to come up with predictive tools without any human instruction. In this case, the data came from the electronic medical records of 378,256 patients in the United Kingdom. The goal was to find patterns in the records that were associated with cardiovascular events.

Predicting atherosclerosis. Researchers may have just discovered a potential new method to diagnose and monitor atherosclerosis: the radial artery. Atherosclerosis, commonly known as hardening of the arteries, has long been seen as a strong indicator of coronary artery disease, as compared to the traditional risk factors of race, age, gende r and metabolic profile. Unlike other diseases that affect many people, atherosclerosis currently has no simple way to diagnose or monitor response to treatment. Peripheral arteries, easily accessible by ultrasound, may be useful for assessing a patient's risk for ischemic cardiovascular disease, thus becoming an important diagnostic tool.

Repairing scarred tissue. A revolutionary 3D-bioprinted patch can help heal scarred heart tissue after a heart attack. The discovery is a major step forward in treating patients with tissue damage after a heart attack. The discovery is a major step forward in treating patients with tissue damage after a heart attack. During a heart attack, a person loses blood flow to the heart muscle and that causes cells to die.

Our bodies can't replace those heart muscle cells so the body forms scar tissue in that area of the heart, which puts the person at risk for compromised heart function and future heart failure. Scientists used laser-based 3D-bioprinting techniques to incorporate stem cells derived from adult human heart cells on a matrix that began to grow and beat synchronously in a dish in the lab. When the cell patch was placed on a mouse following a simulated heart attack, the researchers saw significant increase in functional capacity after just four weeks.

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