DEC 31, 2015 3:55 AM PST

Newest Therapy for Heart Failure Utilizes Asynchronous Electrical Shocks

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Millions of Americans suffer from heart failure, a debilitating condition that develops when the heart loses its ability to properly pump blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the body tissues. An innovative therapy is currently being studied at John Hopkins University to reverse the effect of heart failure, and their most recent results were published in Science Translational Medicine.

The therapy, called “Pacemaker Induced Transient Asynchrony” (PITA), uniquely shocks the heart into an asynchronous rhythm and back to a synchronous rhythm in order to delay heart failure progression.
Successful clinical experiments in dogs were conducted by John Hopkins scientists to test PITA’s ability to “reverse cellular damage to the heart’s response to hormones and fix the damage to the motor proteins in the heart that generate force.”

Researchers induced heart failure in 23 animal subjects; 10 received PITA therapy and 13 did not. These 13 subjects served as heart failure controls. In addition, eight subjects were controls not induced with heart failure.

After four weeks of PITA treatment, the researchers observed “reduced progressive enlargement of the heart” in the group of 10 subjects in comparison to the group of 13 who did not receive PITA. In addition, the group receiving PITA treatment showed enhanced response to adrenaline hormones by 38 percent. Other improvements include reversal of motor protein structural damage and dysfunction and muscle force stability.

"We're very excited about prospects for this therapy because if further research confirms its effectiveness and safety, it's relatively easy to implement,” said John Hopkins University School of Medicine David Kass, MD. “The pacemaker hardware already exists, and with some software upgrades, we may have a treatment that would benefit many, many people.”

It seems counterintuitive to treat a patient with heart failure with asynchronous electrical shocks, but Kass describes the treatment’s effectivity to immunization. With the right amount of asynchrony, the heart can be tuned back to normal synchrony just like exposing the immune system to parts of a pathogen can prepare it for future infections.

Further studies will help scientists determine the suitability of this experimental treatment for clinical use in heart failure patients, a condition that 5.7 million Americans currently live with (American Heart Association).  So far, there have been no adverse side effects observed with PITA.

Watch the following video to learn more about how a pacemaker controls the heartbeat:

Source: John Hopkins University
 
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 01, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
NOV 01, 2019
myTAIHEART Blood Test and Biopsy of Heart Transplant Recipients
Transplant rejection is a process where the immune system of the patient consider the donor's organ as foreign and rejects them. This is because t...
NOV 07, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
NOV 07, 2019
A Revealing Look at Rare Disease Incidence
Being diagnosed with a rare disease can be especially terrifying for patients. After all, many of these diseases have no treatment options. This is because...
DEC 01, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 01, 2019
Blue Whales Exhibit 'Extremely Low' Heart Rates When Performing Deep Dives
Blue whales have a reputation for being massive, and as far as we know, they’re the largest living animal in existence today. Perhaps unsurprisingly,...
JAN 09, 2020
Neuroscience
JAN 09, 2020
Increased Autism Risk for Children Born with Heart Disease
Children born with congenital heart disease (CHD) have a life expectancy comparable to that of the general population. However, despite advances in medical...
JAN 17, 2020
Cardiology
JAN 17, 2020
Eating Walnuts Reduces Risk for Heart Disease
Walnuts may be more than just a tasty snack. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have found that they may also promote healthy gut bacteria, wh...
FEB 21, 2020
Cardiology
FEB 21, 2020
Poor Sleep Increases Heart Disease Risk in Women
Researchers from Columbia University Irving Medical Center have found that women who don’t sleep well leading tend to have a lower quality diet and t...
Loading Comments...