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Paper of the Month

January 2021

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Exercise-Stress Real-time Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Non-Invasive Characterisation of Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction: The HFpEF Stress Trial. Circulation. 2021 Jan 21. DZHK authors: Sören J. Backhaus, Torben Lange, Elisabeth F. George, Kristian Hellenkamp, Marcus Billing, Rolf Wachter, Michael Steinmetz, Uwe Raaz, Joachim Lotz, Tim Friede, Martin Uecker, Gerd Hasenfuß, Tim Seidler, Andreas Schuster

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Diastolic heart failure can be reliably detected with a newly developed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology, shows a study by the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) at the Göttingen site. Until now, this was only possible with a heart catheterisation study, which is an invasive and potentially stressful test for patients.

In the HFpEF-stress-DZHK17 study, the scientists have now shown that diastolic heart failure can be diagnosed precisely with the help of a new non-invasive real-time MRI technology. Thus, a cardiac catheterization study may be avoided in the future. the new MRI technology, which allows for live MRI measurements of the heart under stress, was developed at the DHK partner site Göttingen. Patients can continue to breathe during the MRI examination and do not have to hold their breath as before.

The method involves an ergometer similar to a home trainer, which is installed on the examination couch. The special feature is the MRI ergometer's non-magnetic components, which enable its use in the magnetic resonance tomograph's magnetic field.

The patients are cycling lying down while the MRI scanner measures the pumping function of the heart. The doctors can follow the images on a screen during the examination and precisely assess how well the patient's heart works.

With the DZHK study, the scientists validated their new MRI examination and proved that it works very well for the diagnosis of HFpEF and that the catheter examination can thus possibly be avoided. However, larger studies are needed before the technique can be routinely used in diagnostics.