Heart muscle tests are saving lives

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 12:00am

Technology to measure heart muscle action is saving lives, Chinese University says. It enables doctors to detect a slowing in muscle action, providing an early warning of a possibly fatal condition and enabling earlier treatment.

The university introduced imaging systems - including tissue doppler imaging, an ultrasound procedure, tissue synchronisation imaging and real-time 3D echocardiography, which creates a virtual three-dimensional image of the heart - in 1999.

Monitoring the speed of heart contractions and relaxation can help predict the risk of death.

Three studies by the university on more than 900 patients with heart disease, heart failure and hypertension between 1998 and last year showed that the slower the heart contracts, the higher the risk of dying from heart disease.

The head of the university's division of cardiology, Yu Cheuk-man, said: 'The previous echocardiography couldn't accurately assess the contraction and relaxation of the heart, so we always prescribed a late treatment for patients with heart disease.

'With these tests, we can clearly assess heart muscle function so we can make an early diagnosis and introduce proper medicine and [care] early on.'

The death rate for those with heart disease has dropped from 16 per cent to 12 per cent in the 10 years to last year.