Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nervous system’s role in fatal heart rhythm studied

23.12.2005


Finding out why seemingly healthy people experience ventricular fibrillation, a fatal irregular heart rhythm, could eventually lead to better methods of early detection, according to a Medical College of Georgia researcher.



“We don’t know what starts ventricular fibrillation or why defibrillation – electrically shocking the heart back into beating normally – works to correct it,” says Dr. Autumn Schumacher, a new faculty member in the MCG School of Nursing who recently won the American Heart Association’s Martha N. Hill New Investigator Award for her research. “We do, however, need a better understanding of this abnormal rhythm and its subtle warning signals so that we can develop smarter bedside monitors.”

While the condition is more common in people with undiagnosed heart problems, those who’ve had a previous heart attack and those with coronary artery disease, it also happens to seemingly healthy people when the body is under stress and secreting adrenaline, says Dr. Schumacher, a physiological and technological nursing professor.


Her current research focuses on what effect adrenaline has on the electrical patterns in the heart.

“The autonomic nervous system controls the heart rate by signaling our body to secrete adrenaline and increase our heart rate based on what we need – the fight or flight reflex,” she says.

Researchers already know that ventricular fibrillation occurs when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions, the electrical signals that control the pumping of the heart become rapid and chaotic causing the lower chambers of the heart to quiver instead of contract. Those chambers can no longer pump blood to the rest of the body, which leads to sudden cardiac death without defibrillation – a successful emergency shock to jump start the heart back into a regular beat.

Studying those electrical signals is what will lead to better medical equipment, Dr. Schumacher says.

Traditional cardiac tests such as electrocardiograms, which record the electrical activity of the heart and identify abnormal rhythms, and echocardiograms, which use sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart, haven’t been able to pinpoint minute changes that are a precursor to ventricular fibrillation; they only provide a picture of large scale electrical activity.

But, by using voltage-sensitive fluorescent dye, injecting it into an isolated animal model and photographing the images at 1,000 frames per second, researchers have been able to see the small picture. These minute images of ventricular fibrillation have recently led to the discovery that the electrical activity during ventricular fibrillation forms distinct patterns.

“The patterns aren’t random as we previously thought,” Dr. Schumacher says. “They actually form spiral waves that often collide with each other and spin off more spiral waves.”

Better bedside monitors will be able to detect the precursors to those spiral wave patterns so that doctors and nurses will have a two-to-three minute warning and can prevent ventricular fibrillation before it happens, she says.

To find out what role adrenaline plays in the whole process, Dr. Schumacher uses various drugs to simulate autonomic nervous system imbalance in an isolated animal heart. Then she photographs fluorescent images of the electrical activity while recording the heart’s rhythm with an electrocardiogram.

“We know that autonomic imbalance and too much adrenaline can contribute to the conditions promoting ventricular fibrillation,” she says. “This research aims to find out why.”

Jennifer Hilliard | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mcg.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

nachricht First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed
25.04.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Research reveals how order first appears in liquid crystals

23.05.2018 | Life Sciences

Space-like gravity weakens biochemical signals in muscle formation

23.05.2018 | Life Sciences

NIST puts the optical microscope under the microscope to achieve atomic accuracy

23.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>