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University of Michigan analyzes new technique for measuring heart failure risk

U-M partners with Epsilon Imaging on new technique that accurately measures diastolic dysfunction, a major cause of heart failure

Dr. Theodore J. Kolias

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Diastolic function, or how well the heart muscle relaxes, is a major factor in heart failure, a condition on the rise among aging Americans. But current technology for measuring diastolic function is limited.

A study presented Saturday at the American College of Cardiology 61st scientific sessions shows a new technique developed by investigators at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center andEpsilon Imaging accurately measures diastolic function and compares favorably to the current standard of tissue Doppler.

This novel technique uses a new type of echocardiography, called radiofrequency-based speckle tracking echocardiography, to measure diastolic strain rate, a direct measure of diastolic function.

“Current methods to evaluate diastolic function are limited,” says cardiologist Theodore J. Kolias, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan and lead author of the study.

“This new technique may provide a more straightforward and accurate assessment of diastolic function.”

In the study, called RF-SPEED, patients with diastolic dysfunction were found to have significantly lower diastolic strain rate (obtained using the new technique) compared to patients with normal diastolic function.

In addition, diastolic strain rate was a better marker of diastolic dysfunction compared to the current standard of tissue Doppler.

“There is a significant need for better techniques to diagnose patients with diastolic dysfunction, who can comprise half of all heart failure patients,” says Kolias. “We think this may be a step in the right direction.”

According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, 1 in 56 Americans will experience heart failure. National efforts are working toward prevention, mostly through early detection, and better management of the causes of heart failure, such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
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About Strain Analysis
Strain Imaging can provide repeatable assessment of regional heart mechanics and consistent global functional parameters (EF and global strain),. This added information can reduce interpretation time on the visually demanding cases and increase confidence for experienced and novice readers. The quantified data provided can also reduce variability between readers. Strain imaging has been shown to have clinical value for other applications such as heart failure, cardio-oncology, cardiomyopathies, and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT).

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