There have been tremendous advances in cardiac surgery over the years. Physicians can now operate on children with heart defects in the first month or week of their lives. But very little is known about how the human heart develops especially in that first year after birth.
Emory and Childrenâ€™s Healthcare of Atlanta researcher Mary Wagner, PhD, is leading a project looking at how the heart develops during the first year of life. This is critical, she says, because childrenâ€™s hearts respond differently to medications and surgery than adultsâ€™ hearts, and many treatments currently available to pediatric heart patients were designed and tailored specifically for the adult heart.
Wagner, associate professor in Emory’s School of Medicine, and her research team will examine the physiological properties of human heart tissue from pediatric patients. The samples are tissue that needs to be removed as part of the surgical repair of the patientâ€™s heart and would otherwise be discarded.
The ultimate goal of Wagnerâ€™s research is to examine the differences in the human heart in the first year after birth and identify novel target therapies for the pediatric cardiac patient.
Wagnerâ€™s research labs are housed at The Emory-Childrenâ€™s Center, a joint venture between Emory Healthcare and Childrenâ€™s Healthcare of Atlanta.
An aging U.S. population, an increase in the prevalence of obesity and improved cardiovascular therapies for acute problems are boosting the number of people living with the condition of heart failure.
Javed Butler, MD, MPH, director of heart failure research at Emory Healthcare and associate professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, is looking for new ways to prevent and treat heart failure.
According to Butler, heart failure is any condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood for the metabolic needs of the body, but that does not mean that the heart is not cheap oakleys pumping or the heart has stopped working. Heart failure is not a disease but a syndrome, so thereâ€™s a whole family of different diseases that can precede this condition. These are known collectively as heart failure.
In the clinic, Butler treats patients already diagnosed with heart failure. His research focuses on prevention through life style changes as well as models pinpointing who is at risk for heart failure.
Butler and his colleagues recently created the Health ABC Heart Failure Model for predicting risk of new onset heart failure in the elderly. That model has now been strengthened by validating it via a library of patient data from an earlier cardiovascular study. The results suggest the Health ABC risk model can be used to identify high-risk individuals for whom interventions can be cost-effectively targeted to prevent heart failure.
To hear Butlerâ€™s own discussion about heart failure, access the podcast from Emoryâ€™s Sound Science series.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) are a major cause of illness and death in the U.S., with the incidence increasing dramatically over the age of 55. These aneurysms are a widening and bulging of the large artery that runs through the body from the heart into the abdomen. They often go undetected until they suddenly rupture, often resulting in death within minutes.
A team of physicians and engineers from Emory and Georgia Tech is studying the biology and biomechanics of vascular inflammation and disturbed blood flow in AAAs to understand how they develop and could be prevented or detected earlier.
Taylor points out that predicting the likelihood of aneurysm rupture is extremely difficult and patients often donâ€™t notice them until they already are leaking or ruptured. Even small aneurysms often expand rapidly and rupture. He and his team will try to pin down specific risk factors for AAAs, which they think differ from traditional cardiovascular risk factors.