Looking for bruising or bleeding in the heart muscle may lead medical practitioners to tell the severity of the heart attack and also whether it might cause lasting harm.
UK researchers said that they have discovered a new way to tell if a heart attack is more severe and might result in lasting harm by looking for bruising or bleeding in the heart muscle.
The Glasgow team said that patients whose scans showed bruising or bleeding more often develop serious problems like heart failure.
This discovery could help doctors provide better treatment to patients who could develop complications later.
Heart attacks are the leading cause of heart failures in half a million people in UK.
The researchers are presenting their work at a heart conference in Manchester.
For the present study, the researchers ran extra tests on the patients while they were in hospital.
The British Heart Foundation-funded work conducted the study on just over 200 patients.
The researchers analysed how well the patients fared in the hours, weeks and months after being admitted to hospital with a heart attack.
In the study conducted on the patients, Prof Colin Berry and his team found that patients who had signs of bleeding in their heart muscle were more likely to develop later complications, as compared to the patients whose scans did not show this damage.
Professor Berry said that this knowledge could be of great help to the doctors when they are deciding the line of treatment that they should give to the patient.
It will also help the doctors decide for how long the patient should be closely monitored after the heart attack.
Blood Thinning Drugs
Professor Berry suspected that the blood-thinning drugs that doctors administer to the patients as treatment after they have had a heart attack might partly be the reason for the bleeds.
Heart attacks usually occur when a clot blocks the main blood vessels supplying blood to the heart. The blood thinning drugs are given to the patients to resolve the clotting.
Prof Berry said that sometimes the tiny blood vessels in the heart muscle tissue itself could also get blocked, which makes them leaky.
He added that nearly half of heart attack patients probably have some bleeding or bruising of the heart. However, not all of them will develop heart failure.
“This might explain why patients who have had effective treatment for their heart attack can still have adverse outcomes.
“We now know heart muscle bleeding is an adverse complication that we want to avoid,” he said.
His team is now conducting studies on whether there might be a better way to treat patients who have had a more severe heart attack. They are looking into the possibility of injecting blood-thinning or clot-busting drugs directly into the heart’s blood vessels rather than intravenously.