Breakthrough announced in heart-failure research

One molecule is all it takes to set in motion a fatal chain of events that can result in heart failure, according to the findings of Swiss biologists.

This content was published on June 4, 2009

In the online journal "Cell Metabolism", the scientists at Zurich's Federal Institute of Technology reveal new information on how the heart muscle converts nutrients into energy when under stress.

This is often the case with overweight people suffering from high blood pressure.

In such instances the heart must work harder to pump blood through the body. The muscle becomes enlarged and demands more fuel and oxygen. But until there are enough blood vessels to meet those demands, the heart must burn glucose – an easy source of energy. A healthy heart typically burns fat.

For the heart to burn sugar, scientists have shown that it needs a protein known as HIF1-alpha. That compound can also cause heart cells to produce and store fat, which can lead to heart failure.

Finding a way to block the protein could break the chain of events, the researchers said.

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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