Measure the fat around the heart can prevent the risk of running into diabetes. This is stated by research carried out by scholars of the Queen Mary University of London who have developed a new way I hope I can take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) in such a way that it is capable of automatically measuring the amount of fat around the heart from the images of MRI scan.
MRI scan of the heart showing the area of fat detected by the AI tool. Credit: Queen Mary, University of London
There Research, funded by CAP-AI program, driven by Barts Life Sciences, a research and innovation partnership between the Queen Mary University of London is Barts Health NHS Trust, was published in the magazine Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine.
Fat around the heart: associated with a higher chance of having diabetes?
Thanks to the use of artificial intelligence, the London research team was able to prove that more fat around the heart is associated with significantly greater chances of getting diabetes, regardless of a person’s age, gender, and body mass index.
Several studies have shown that the distribution of fat in the human body can influence an individual’s risk of developing various diseases. The commonly used measure ofbody mass index (BMI) mainly reflects the accumulation of fat under the skin, rather than around internal organs. In particular, there are insights into the accumulation of fat around the heart that may be a predictor of heart disease. Not only that, this condition is related to several diseases, including the atrial fibrillation, the diabetes and the coronary heart disease.
The lead researcher, Dr. Zahra Raisi-Estabragh of the William Harvey Research Institute of the Queen Mary, he has declared: “Unfortunately, manually measuring the amount of fat around the heart is challenging and time-consuming. For this reason, to date, no one has been able to thoroughly investigate this in studies of large groups of people ”.
“To address this problem, we have invented an artificial intelligence tool that can be applied to MRI scans of the heart standard to automatically and quickly get a measurement of fat around the heart, in less than three seconds. This tool can be used by future researchers to learn more about the links between the fat around the heart and the risk of disease, but also potentially in the future, as part of a standard hospital patient’s care. “
Scientists tested the AI algorithm’s ability to interpret images from MRI scans of the heart of over 45,000 subjects, including participants in the UK Biobank, a health information database of over half a million participants. The study team found that AI was able to accurately determine the amount of fat around the heart from MRI scan images and was also able to calculate a person’s risk of diabetes. patient.
The Dr. Andrew Bard of the Queen Mary, who led the technical development, added: “The AI tool also includes a built-in method for calculate the uncertainty of your results, so it could be said that he has an impressive ability to score his tasks. “
Professor Steffen Petersen of Queen Mary’s William Harvey Research Institute, which oversaw the project, said: “This new tool has high utility for future research and, if clinical utility is demonstrated, it could be applied in clinical practice to improve patient care. This work highlights the value of interdisciplinary collaborations in medical research, particularly in cardiovascular imaging “.
Why is it dangerous to have too much fat around the heart?
Scientifically, the fat around the heart is called epicardial adipose tissue, to indicate the fat that covers the coronaries and the heart. An excess of fatty tissue around the heart can compromise its health. This condition leads in fact to modify the metabolism of the heart, alter its structure and mobility, damaging the function of the heart pump and increasing the chances of incurring one heart failure.
In addition to these pathologies, the excess fat around the heart also favors the onset of arteriosclerosis, aggravates the conditions of the blood microcirculation, exposing the subjects concerned to the onset of ischemias. Eventually it can also infiltrate the heart muscle wall, generating potentials abnormalities in the heartbeat.
Symptoms that accompany a fatty heart are:
- peripheral edema;
- chest pain;
Another study, developed by researchers from the Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health of theUniversity of Milan andIRCCS San Donato Polyclinic, and published onInternational Journal of Cardiology, has shown that i medications used in the therapy of type II diabetes and obesity they also have the ability to reduce this fat, bringing benefits to the cardiovascular system.
If the epicardial adipose tissue is measured in normal quantities instead, and this happens when it constitutes about the 20% of the total heart weight, it represents the main energy reserve of the heart. Not only that, it protects this precious muscle both with a thermogenic action and with a structural action. This means that the temperature of our heart is always optimal and that the coronaries remain permanently in their premises when the heartbeat rate increases.
Doctor Alexis Elias Malavazos is responsible for the Center for Dietetics, Food Education and Cardiometabolic Prevention of the IRCCS Policlinico San Donato, he explained that: “For several years we have focused our group’s research on EAT (Epicardial Adipose Tissue, ed) and his role in cardiovascular diseases. We know that theexcess of epicardial fat generates an inflammatory action directly on walls of the coronary arteries It is on cardiac muscle. This pro-inflammatory function of fat is a predictor independent of coronary heart disease and metabolic risk “.
“This new work, however, in addition to confirming its role as an important risk factor, it opens the way to consideration of EAT like a real therapeutic target on which in the future it will be possible to act directly “.
The study showed that drug therapies administered to subjects with diabetes and to subjects affected by obesity, the so-called medicines incretin-mimetic, simulate the action of incretin that of the hormones that, normally produced by the intestine, have both the function of stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin, and to reduce blood glucose.
The effect on patients produced very interesting results: there was in fact a significant reduction in fat around the heart, up to 36%. It is important to specify that this result was obtained regardless of the overall weight loss of the subjects involved in the research. This showed that it was a direct effect drugs at the EAT level.
“We have studied samples of EAT taken from coronary heart disease patients undergoing bypass surgery. We found that EAT expresses a specific molecule (GLP-1R) which works from receptor for incretin. THE levels of this molecule I’m Associates to gods genes which reduce creating new fat (adipogenesis) “ he explains Elena Dozio, Researcher of Clinical Pathology at the Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health of the University of Milan.
“More promoteoxidation of fatty acids and the differentiation of white to brown fat cells. In this way they favor energy expenditure and fat loss. Through the action on EAT, therefore, an important protective function at the heart level derives “, concluded the scientist.