Treatment for patients with heart problems 'found in bears'

2 August 2011

Disturbances in the heart's normal rhythm could be prevented through the aid of a synthesised compound found in bears, a new study has indicated.

In unusual findings that could produce an alternative to the current electric cardioversion procedure, bear bile was found to contain a particular acid that decreased the production of cholesterol, which impacts on heart health.

Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), present in Chinese medicines using such bile, was found to affect arrhythmia by altering the electrical properties of myofibroblasts, in research led by Imperial College London and published in the Hepatology journal.

Dr Julia Gorelik, the study's senior author, explained: "These findings are exciting because the treatments we have now are largely ineffective at preventing arrhythmia in patients who develop an abnormal heart rhythm after a heart attack."

The research should translate into a clinical trial to examine whether UDCA is indeed as effective as the research team suspect.

Around 33 per cent of adults in England and Scotland have high blood pressure, but only around 50 per cent of them are receiving treatment for the condition, according to the British Heart Foundation.

Posted by Edward Bartel

1 M. Miragoli et al. "A protective anti-arrhythmic role of ursodeoxycholic acid in an in-vitro rat model of the cholestatic fetal heart." Hepatology. Monday August 1st 2011.

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