Dr Rebecca Perry

Dr Rebecca Perry

Dr Perry’s research is using a new technology, called strain imaging, to better identify patients in need of an internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD). Improved identification of patients in need of an ICD will ensure that those who have suffered mild to moderate heart failure, and are at risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD), could now receive the life saving device. Early identification and intervention of this kind has the potential to save a significant number of lives in the future.

Dr Perry’s study is part of a larger international project called CMR GUIDE HF (Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Guided management of mild-moderate left ventricular systolic Heart Failure). The project seeks to evaluate the benefits of adjusting current guidelines to expand the parameters of those eligible to receive an ICD by selecting patients based on cardiac MRI abnormalities.

Current guidelines do not allow for those who have suffered from mild to moderate heart failure to receive an ICD, however the majority of patients that succumb to SCD fall within this group. 

Patients who have experienced mild to moderate heart failure often have damage to their heart, in the form of scarring or fibrosis of the muscle, which in turn puts them at greater risk of suffering from SCD. However it is often hard to see this damage using current imaging technology such as a cardiac ultrasound (also known as echocardiography or echo). In order to see it patients would need to have a cardiac MRI.

The challenge is that MRIs are expensive and not readily available to everyone, especially those living in regional and rural areas.  Strain imaging has the potential to remove the need for an MRI and identify this scarring and tissue damage, resulting in a less expensive and more accessible process which ultimately saves lives.

Dr Perry hopes her research could change international and national clinical guidelines and practice around which patients get an internal cardiac defibrillator implanted.

“If we can use advanced heart imaging to show which patients may suffer from a life threatening heart rhythm then it is possible that this research could increase survival in this growing patient population”.

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