Engineers at the University of California, San Diego have determined for the first time the impact of a ring-shaped vortex on transporting blood flow in normal and abnormal ventricles within the human heart. They worked with cardiologists at the Non-Invasive Cardiology Laboratory at Gregorio Marañon Hospital, in Madrid, Spain.
In order to make the study possible, researchers have developed a novel ultrasound technology that makes screening cheaper and much easier, making it possible to reach a large number of people and even infants. Intra-ventricular flow imaging is currently done with MRI scans, which is expensive and not suitable for patients with implanted devices such as pacemakers.
Researchers found that the ring-shaped vortex helps to allocate about 15 percent of the blood flow within the left ventricle in healthy patients; roughly 20 percent in patients with non-ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy; but only about 5 percent for patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
“It is always difficult to determine if the heart is filling properly,” del Alamo explained. “This new method will bring physicians a step closer to doing so.” Treatment therapy for cardiomyopathies often includes devices implantation, such as pacemakers, to regulate blood flow within the heart. The data from these new imaging modalities could be instrumental, helping physicians to properly set up the devices, optimizing blood flow.