Cutting-edge hope for rare heart condition
Press release issued: 20 October 2006
An existing heart medicine may offer life-saving treatment hope for a rare heart condition, suggests new research from the University of Bristol, funded by the British Heart Foundation.
An existing heart medicine may offer life-saving treatment for a rare heart condition, suggests new research from the University of Bristol, funded by the British Heart Foundation.
A team led by Professor Jules Hancox and Dr Harry Witchel have found research clues that could prevent life-threatening heart beat irregularities caused by ‘short QT syndrome’ (SQTS) – a rare condition that runs in families.
People with SQTS can be prone to dangerous changes in heart rhythm, such as the life-threatening condition ‘ventricular fibrillation’. This is due to a defect in regulation of the electrical currents that control heart muscle contraction. The existence of SQTS was discovered in 1999, and medical treatments are very limited.
Professor Hancox said, “Knowledge of the existence of SQTS is so new that few cases have so far been diagnosed around the world – doctors will be able to identify it more as awareness grows.
“While it’s a very rare condition, the consequences could be serious, so knowing how to tackle it as people are diagnosed is vital.”
The team found that, in isolated cells, a heart medicine called disopyramide appears to be able to correct the molecular defect in one type of SQTS. If the results translate into humans, disopyramide could be a life-saving medicine for sufferers.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said “This demonstrates how research into understanding the fundamentals of heart conditions can provide the evidence we need to help more heart patients benefit from existing medicines.”