The University of Maryland's Heart and Vascular Center is constantly looking for new ways to improve patient care via research.
A New Approach to High Blood Pressure
Anuj Gupta, MD, is leading the Reinforce study, which addressed high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure is a chronic disease which now necessitates lifelong medicinal treatment. For various reasons, this can be difficult: the cost, inconvenience and personal preference often lead to patients discontinuing their medications.
Dr. Gupta's research focuses on renal nerve ablation, an investigational procedure to try to treat hypertension by burning the sympathetic nerves in the kidney.
Researching Heart Failure Medication
Stephen Gottlieb, MD, is leading Galactic, which addresses medications given to heart failure patients. Hearts of patients with heart failure due to systolic dysfunction do not adequately maintain cardiac output. Existing medications which improve cardiac output have side effects and long-term outcomes which can be detrimental.
Omecamtiv mecarbil is an investigational medication which increases cardiac output by a novel mechanism. Rather than affecting intracellular calcium, it increases the binding between myosin and actin, which increases the time of cardiac contraction. Preliminary studies show improved hemodynamics. This is a randomized placebo-controlled study to look at clinical outcomes in patients with symptomatic heart failure.
A Healthier Take on Muffins
It's hard to think of the typical muffin, often loaded with saturated fat and a high calorie count, as a healthy food option. But muffins made with healthier fats yielded unexpected health benefits during a first-of-its-kind clinical study at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, led by Michael Miller, MD.
The study looked at a way to substitute animal-based saturated fats for plant-based unsaturated fats in muffins made for patients with the metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that affect about a third of adults in the United States, increasing their chance of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Novel Ways to Treat Atrial Fibrillation
Timm-Michael Dickfeld, MD, PhD, is leading research which focuses on novel approaches to make the ablation of abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) more successful, especially in complex arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia (VT) and atrial fibrillation (AFib). VT and AFib have had only moderate treatment success in the past.
In close collaboration with the Department of Radiology and Division of Nuclear Medicine, we are able to approach these abnormal heart rhythms in novel and comprehensive ways by using computer tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and three-dimensional ultrasound.
This allows the physician to visualize the heart in completely new ways and can be used for the development of new treatment strategies. These novel concepts are being evaluated in computer simulations and animal studies and are partially already available to improve patient care.