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Researchers from the CIMA of the University of Navarra describe how hypertension provokes cardiac insufficiency

A U.S. scientific journal says that this study of a newly-discovered mechanism may help in prevention and early detection of the disorder

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FOTO: Manuel Castells
30/06/06 16:13 Mª Pilar Huarte

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology has just published, in its electronic edition, an article by researchers from the CIMA of the University of Navarra and the Hospital Donostia of San Sebastián. The article describes a newly-discovered mechanism through which the hearts of persons with hypertension can suffer structural damages, which can impede functioning and provoke cardiac insufficiency in these patients.

The authors designed a blood analysis which detects whether this mechanism is damaging the heart, which in turn makes possible the use of therapeutic techniques to block the mechanism. The U.S. journal includes an editorial commentary by the doctors Arsalan Shirwany and Karl Weber, from the University of Memphis (USA): they affirm that the article opens a new path for the understanding of cardiac insufficiency in hypertensive patients, as well as early detection and possible prevention of cardiac damage.

5 years after first diagnosis, the survival rate is less than 50%

The scientific article is the result of the combined labor of Drs. Begoña López, Arantxa González and Javier Díez, of the CIMA of the University of Navarra and the University Hospital. In addition, Drs. Mariano Larman and Ramón Querejeta collaborated in the research, both from the Cardiology Service of the Hospital Donostia (San Sebastián).

As is known, cardiac insufficiency is the clinical situation which results from the majority of chronic cardiac diseases. According to Dr. Javier Díez, director of the Area of Cardiovascular Sciences of the CIMA, "the prevalence of cardiac insufficiency has been increasing considerably for many years, and has come to be an issue of epidemic proportions. Along with the magnitude of the problem, there is also its severity: 5 after initial diagnosis, the survival rate of the patients is below 50%."

The damages caused in the heart by arterial hypertension (the so-called hypertensive cardiopathy) constitute the principal cause of cardiac insufficiency, especially in women of advanced age. For over 15 years, scientists belonging to the CIMA of the University of Navarra have been researching the mechanisms responsible for these damages, as well as means for early detection and effective treatment.