At Georgia Heart Institute, our impressive team of cardiologists and clinical researchers are collaborating with experts from around the country to pursue ground-breaking studies in the areas of advanced cardiac imaging, coronary artery disease management and heart attack prevention.

Currently at Georgia Heart Institute, we are participating in several national research studies, three of which were made possible by funding through the National Institute of Health (NIH), the world’s largest and most advanced biomedical research organization in the world. The NIH is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and it works to support research aimed at fighting the most pervasive diseases and improving health for all.

Receiving funding from the NIH speaks to the scope of the studies and the potential impact the research may have on heart and vascular care as we know it. Today, Georgia Heart Institute is actively contributing to three NIH studies, including:

Biomechanical Indices for Coronary Lesion Rupture Risk and Lesion Prognostication

Working with Lucas Timmins, PhD, University of Utah, Georgia Heart Institute researchers are studying plaques in the coronary arteries that form as a result of coronary artery disease (CAD). Overtime, plaque in blood vessels can become more prone to rupturing, causing a heart attack. To better understand two key questions – why certain plaques rupture and what causes them to develop – this study examines a biomarker, wall stress, the amount of pressure put on plaque from blood flow, as the primary factor.

Through advanced cardiac imaging and in-depth analysis, researchers will be able to determine if wall stress is an accurate predictor of whether someone will have a heart attack – and when. The outcomes of this study would allow for effective and proactive intervention to effectively treat CAD and prevent a heart attack from occurring.

Patient-Specific Coronary Hemodynamics by 3D Printing

Collaborating with Simon Dunham, PhD, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, researchers at Georgia Heart Institute are working to understand the limitations of a new coronary artery disease diagnostic test CT FFR. This will allow researchers to create new and innovative method of diagnostic imaging requires optimizing equipment and technology, as well as developing key workflows, all of which are necessary to prove effectiveness and accuracy.

This collaboration will use 3D printed models of patients` coronary arteries to validate CT FFR models. The 3D printed models will allow researchers to model patient blood flow with greater accuracy. If successful, this study will increase the accuracy of tests for diagnosing ischemia (limited blood flow) and better help identify patients who require treatment.

Integrating Coronary Atherosclerosis with Physiologic Features for Optimized Risk Stratification

In collaboration with Peter Stone, MD, Harvard Medical School, Georgia Heart Institute is participating in a study that’s analyzing the key characteristics of coronary artery disease (CAD) and the anatomy of the coronary artery plaque. Specifically, researchers will be analyzing CAD characteristics, generated through CT imaging, to better understand and predict heart attack risk. Researchers at Georgia Heart Institute will calculate a biomarker, wall shear stress, in patient coronary arteries and investigate wall shear stress as a predictor of heart attacks.

This study further proposes that other CAD characteristics, not only wall shear stress, should be included when determining the risk of a heart attack. These characteristics include: fractional flow reserve, plaque burden, plaque phenotype, particle resident time, axial plaque stress and plaque structural stress. By considering all these CAD characteristics, a more accurate and precise predictive framework can be used in patient care, especially for those who have not been previously diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease.

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