New research published in the journal, Science, on Thursday, by scientists led by Arjun Deb, director, UCLA Cardiovascular Theme, David Geffen School of Medicine, provides a clue for new treatment: scar-forming cells that reside in the scar tissue of an injured heart have a role in creating a disturbance in heart rhythms (arrhythmia). This finding can help prevent heart attacks and help develop treatments.
Globally, arrhythmia is responsible for some 12 million deaths from sudden heart attacks.
With the new study, the focus moves to preventives and therapeutics. What is also clear is that any injury to the heart tissue must be treated with utmost seriousness. This raises a red flag in India, where exposure to poor air all year round is likely to cause injury resulting in irregular heartbeats and increased chances of sudden heart attacks. So far, heart attacks have been attributed to stress, exertion and diet. Now, environmental factors such as exposure to industrial smoke and toxic air must be treated with greater seriousness.
Finding an answer to why otherwise healthy persons suffer a heart attack is a big win for medical science. It serves to underscore the importance of research and investing in finding answers.
Earlier this month, UCLA Cardiac Arrhythmia Center awarded $11.5 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services to study specific interventions to the nervous system to prevent irregular heartbeats that can be lethal. India, too, must step up its medical research, especially with people suffering from non-communicable diseases on the rise.
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