Electronic trousers that pulse blood back to the heart could help thousands of Britons with angina
Electronic trousers that pulse blood back to the heart could help thousands of Britons with angina.
Doctors say that the trousers, which inflate around the legs and push blood up from the legs, could create a ‘DIY heart bypass’ and may also help those with the heart-valve disorder aortic stenosis.
More than 250,000 Britons a year are diagnosed with angina — a condition where patients experience shortness of breath or pain because of a lack of blood and oxygen to heart muscle. It is thought to be caused by the vessels that supply the heart becoming furred, which restricts blood supply.
Doctors can perform surgery or give medication to improve blood flow.
However, around 50,000 Britons have angina that is hard to treat, either because they don’t respond to medication, or they are too unwell to undergo surgery.
But recently doctors have started to treat angina using a series of inflatable cuffs on each leg, which push blood back to the heart.
The cuffs fit around a patient’s calves, thighs and buttocks, while electrodes on the chest monitors heartbeat.
When the heart relaxes the cuffs inflate and push blood back up to the heart, improving blood supply.
When the heart beats, the cuffs relax, allowing blood to flow down the legs and feet.
Trials using the trousers suggest they lead to long-term improvements. ‘The increased blood flow produce hormones that widen the vessels, and can even stimulate the body to create tiny new blood vessels, rather like a DIY heart bypass,’ says Dr Andrew Skyrme-Jones, consultant cardiologist at Spire Bristol Hospital and North Bristol NHS Trust.
A new study from Pennsylvania has revealed that the technique may also benefit patients who suffer from the common heart-valve condition aortic stenosis.
This occurs when the valve that controls blood flow from the heart into the aorta — the main artery that carries blood to the body — hardens and narrows. This restricts the body’s blood supply.
The new study of 43 patients with aortic stenosis and angina, published in the journal Clinical Cardiology, found that the treatment reduced blood pressure in vessels surrounding the heart and resulted in less chest pain. Doctors say that although an increasing number of trusts are now using the trousers, it is still not widely available.
Doctors say that the trousers, which inflate around the legs and push blood up from the legs, could create a 'DIY heart bypass'
Commenting on the technique, Dr Bernard Prendergast, cardiologist and honorary secretary of the British Cardiovascular Society, said: ‘For patients who cannot be helped by other treatment options, and who have been thoroughly assessed by a specialist team, this is a valuable option.’
Meanwhile, doctors have developed an electric vest to help diagnose abnormal heart rhythms.
Cardiologists from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London say the vests, which resemble flak jackets and are lined with 250 electrodes, create an ‘electrical map’ of the heart that pinpoints the source of any abnormality.
The heart relies on a wave of electric shocks to maintain a steady rhythm. Problems with these electrics can lead to irregularities, called arrhythmias.
One common treatment is ablation, where high frequency energy is used to burn away the cells in the heart that could be causing the electrical fault. However sometimes doctors struggle to find exactly where in the heart the malfunction is located.
The idea is that ‘electrical maps’ may solve this problem. They are created when a patient wears the vest (against bare skin) during a CT scan. The team say the vest, which costs £1,000, has so far enabled them to successfully treat 40 patients.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2309781/Could-electronic-trousers-beat-angina-Doctors-say-help-create-DIY-heart-bypass-boosting-blood-flow.html#ixzz2QdiRIhKw
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