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Iron Causes Chronic Heart Failure In Heart Attack Patients

by Coffee Table Science

According to researchers at Indiana University, U.S, iron has been associated with causing chronic heart failure. It forms fatty tissues in the heart and obstructs the blood flow leading to chronic heart failure in 50 percent of heart attack survivors. The discovery opens the door to treatment options that can minimise the risk of heart failure in half a million people a year and many more globally. 

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“For the first time, we have identified a root cause of chronic heart failure following a heart attack,” said Rohan Dhramkumar, the study author. “While advances across populations have made survival after a heart attack possible for most, too many survivors suffer long-term complications like heart failure,” said Subha Raman, physician director at the Cardiovascular Institute, U.S. “Dr Dharmakumar’s breakthrough science illuminates who is at risk and why and points to an effective way to prevent these complications.”

What causes heart failure?

Heart failure mainly occurs due to coronary artery disease. It is the most common heart disease where an important heart muscle (coronary artery) gets blocked due to the deposition of fat. This reduces blood flow leading to a heart attack. During the experiment, researchers followed large animal models for six months. They found that in half of the models, heart attacks cause bleeding in the heart muscle (coronary artery), and damaged tissues or scars were replaced by fat. Accumulated fat can’t push blood from the heart effectively which leads to heart failure. In many haemorrhagic heart attack cases, heart failure may cause death. 

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Study outcomes

The researchers discovered that iron induces scar formation by depositing fat on the damaged heart muscles. “Using noninvasive imaging, histology and molecular biology techniques, and various other technologies, we have shown that iron from red blood cells is what drives this process,” Dr Dharamkumar explained. “When we removed the iron, we reduced the amount of fat in the heart muscle. This finding establishes a pathway for clinical investigations to remedy or mitigate the effects associated with iron in hemorrhagic myocardial infarction patients.”

The team is currently testing the iron chelation technique that balances the iron accumulation rate in the body by eliminating excess iron in urine or faeces. 

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications. 

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