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New Imaging Technique Reveals Age, Gender Differences in Beating Heart

December 10, 2009
Written by: , Filed in: Cardiac Imaging
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A study published in the Dec. 8 online editon of Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging, a journal of the American Heart Association, shows surprising differences in the way the heart beats between men and women of different age groups. Using a precise new technique called MRI phase mapping, scientists in Germany studied 29 men and 29 women, all healthy and ranging in age from 20 to over 60. The research team found that the heart does more than contract as it pumps blood; the left ventricle actually twists and turns, changing direction up to six times per heartbeat. Some of the study’s other findings:

  • Contrary to earlier reports, rotation of the apex of the heart slows down with age.
  • The younger women’s hearts had higher up-and-down motions than those of the younger men—the opposite of what was found in the older participants.
  • Compared to men, women showed less twisting of the ventricle, apex rotation, and muscle speed toward the center of the left ventricle during contraction.
  • Age-related changes in peak motion speeds continued regardless of differences in left ventricle shape and blood pressure.

“This information could change the diagnosis and assessment of heart disease from its earliest stages,” lead study author Danielle Föll, MD, of University Hospital Freiburg, said in a press statement.

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Learn more about advances in imaging in the Diagnostic Imaging Review.

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