The Maryland Heart Center is constantly conducting new research to investigate the causes of heart disease and find new ways to treat it, thereby improving the care and treatments we offer our patients.
Several examples of the cutting-edge research being performed by Maryland Heart Center experts are listed below.
Aortic valve stenosis, or narrowing of the aortic valve, is a common problem that reduces the ability of the heart to deliver blood to the rest of the body. The traditional treatment for this disease is to perform open heart surgery and replace the diseased valve, which is effective for many patients, but is not always an option for older patients or those with other medical complications.
The University of Maryland Heart Center is one of a few centers in the country participating in a clinical trial, known as PARTNER II, that provides a non-surgical approach for treating aortic stenosis using a catheter to deliver the new artificial valve while the heart continues to beat. Patients enrolled in this trial will receive one of two possible valve types through a catheter-based approach in the groin known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement.
This trial will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the study device called the Edwards SAPIEN XT valve for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are too high-risk to undergo traditional open heart valve surgery. The Edwards SAPIEN XT valve is currently not approved for sale in the US.
Dr. Dickfeld's research focuses on novel approaches to make the ablation of abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) more successful, especially complex arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia and atrial fibrillation, which have had only moderate treatment success in the past.
In close collaboration with the Department of Radiology and Division of Nuclear Medicine, we are able to approach these abnormal heart rhythms in novel and comprehensive ways by using computer tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and three-dimensional ultrasound. This allows the physician to visualize the heart in completely new ways and can be used for the development of new treatment strategies. These novel concepts are being evaluated in computer simulations and animal studies and are partially already available to improve patient care.
Using models of cardiac transplantation, doctors investigate the role of tobacco exposure on rejection, cardiac allograft vasculopathy and renal failure by studying inflammatory and oxidative stress pathways. These studies will serve to pave the way for clinical studies of new biomarkers specific to tobacco smoke risk, provide insight toward novel targets of therapy and open the door for the clinical trials in the setting of chronic atherosclerosis and acute coronary syndromes.
Dr. Liggett is at the forefront of researchers into genetic variations that may help explain the effectiveness of heart failure medications known as beta-blockers in different people.
a research team led by investigators at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis concluded that a genetic variation, found predominantly in African Americans, protects some people with heart failure, enabling them to live longer than expected. See related news release for more information.
Previously, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver identified a common genetic variation that could help determine whether a person with heart failure would benefit from beta-blockers, a class of drugs used to treat chronic heart failure. The findings are significant because it often takes several months to determine if a specific beta blocker is working for a patient.
"For the first time, we have a genetic test that will help guide us to the best treatment for individual patients with heart failure and provide what has been called personal medicine," says the study’s principal investigator, Stephen B. Liggett, M.D., professor of medicine and physiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of its cardiopulmonary genomics program. See related news release for more information.
Does adding a form of long-acting niacin to one of the most common cholesterol lowering drugs do a better job of delaying the onset of heart attack, stroke, blocked arteries or death from cardiovascular disease? That is the question that University of Maryland cardiologists hope to answer as they participate in a national study. The study, called AIM-HIGH, is a multi-center, randomized, double-blind clinical trial that compares a combination of extended-release niacin plus simvastatin to simvastatin alone.
Michael Miller, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine is the study’s principal investigator in Maryland. For more information click here.
We use a systems approach to investigate the biochemical mechanisms that regulate myocardial energy metabolism and cardiac function in health and disease. The main areas of research in my lab include the following:
Role of myocardial energy metabolism in cardiac failure. We investigate the role of energy metabolism and diet in the development and progression of heart failure. We are particularly interested in the role of fatty acids on metabolic phenotype, left ventricular remodeling, and cardiac function. The effects of acute and chronic metabolic therapies are assessed in models of heart failure and hypertension, and emphasis is place on the development of new pharmacological and dietary treatments for these conditions.
Regulation of cardiac energy metabolism during stress. This work focuses on the biochemical regulation of glycolysis and mitochondrial function during ischemia and exercise. We have developed novel in vivo experimental preparations and in silico computer models to assess the biochemical response to stress. Our overall goal is to gain a more mechanistic understanding of the regulation of cellular energy metabolism during stresses like exercise and ischemia, and identify novel targets for treating stress-induced cardiac dysfunction in heart disease patients.