NIH Studying Pediatric Heart Condition

The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute at NIH has awarded a five year $3.1 million grant to an international team of researchers to discover new and better ways to treat a pediatric congenital heart condition known as “tetralogy of Fallot” affecting 85,000 people in the U.S.

“Tetralogy of Fallot” is one of the most common Congenital Heart Diseases (CHD) and makes up about 20 percent of CHD cases. Patients require surgery before six months of age, often followed by a second intervention during the toddler years.

However, these interventions can often lead to a condition characterized by a leak in the valve that allows blood to flow back into the heart before reaching the lungs for oxygen. This in turn, can lead to an enlarged right ventricle in the heart and can ultimately lead to heart failure. As a result, patient mortality rates can triple during the patient’s 30s.

Research called the “Cardiac Atlas Project” is being led by bioengineers Andrew McCulloch and Jeff Omens at the University of California San Diego, with Dr. Sanjeet Hegde and Dr. James Perry of Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, and Alistair Young at King’s College in London.

The researchers will use machine learning and computational modeling involving cardiac imaging data. They will also obtain clinical measurements from 1,500 children and young adult patients to develop ways to reduce increased risk of heart failure, electrical rhythm disorders, the need for implanted devices, or the need for additional surgical repair procedures.

The research team will also create a database and develop innovative statistical atlases of cardiac shape, biomechanics, and electrophysiology in order to discover new early predictors of clinical outcomes to help cardiologists better manage patients with “tetralogy of Fallot”.

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