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Testing new treatment for heart attack recovery

Posted by Erinor Jacob-Levine on November 30, 2016 in News
Dr. Keith Brunt in the Department of Pharmacology and his collaborators are developing a new treatment to improve outcomes after a heart attack, and to prevent heart failure. (DMNB photo)
Dr. Keith Brunt in the Department of Pharmacology and his collaborators are developing a new treatment to improve outcomes after a heart attack, and to prevent heart failure. (DMNB photo)

AMI and ART are just two more medical acronyms, unless you or a loved one have a heart attack.

AMI, an acute myocardial infarction, is the heart attack. And ART, acute reperfusion therapy – or the reopening of the artery – is the life-saving treatment administered after the heart attack.

But what about those who are unable to receive ART, or for whom it will not work?

Dr. Keith Brunt, a translational scientist at Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick, seeks to find the solution.

An assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Dr. Brunt specializes in molecular therapeutics and nano-pharmacology. He’s working in collaboration with Dr. Jeremy Simpson, a cardiorespiratory physiologist at the University of Guelph, to develop a new treatment that aims to improve outcomes after heart attack, and to prevent the development of heart failure.

The study, a first of its kind, will test the effectiveness of a novel therapeutic. The medication will be administered to patients after a heart attack, while examining the effects of age between males and females on recovery.   

“We can’t predict a heart attack, we can only treat it,” says Dr. Brunt. “The problem with previous studies is that they’ve only tested treatments before a heart attack, which is not what happens in the real world.”

The study seeks to address the gap that exists between successful pre-clinical trials and unsuccessful clinical trials of similar drugs. The researchers will be looking specifically at how drugs affect males and females differently, providing more realistic treatment outcomes.

“Not enough people are studying the impact of new treatments on females, even though women are now experiencing more heart attacks than men,” says Dr. Brunt. “This makes it difficult to diagnose and treat women with heart disease. One way to address this is to design our science with clinical realities in mind, which is what Dr. Simpson and I are doing with this study.”

“We’re working closely with cardiologists on the project. We want to ensure that our research is aligned with the realities of what patients experience going from ambulance to hospital care.”

The work is being funded by the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada.