Early diagnosis key with heart disease

Dec. 13, 2005 at 8:16 PM
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BALTIMORE, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Researchers in Baltimore say that early diagnosis is the key to treating a heart condition believed responsible for many deaths among young athletes.

A team at Johns Hopkins University examined 100 cases of arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysphasia, or ARVD, including 69 people who are still alive and 31 who were diagnosed with the condition after death.

ARVD, which appears on MRI scans as a protruding or pouch-like bulge on the right side of the heart, has a range of symptoms, including irregular heart beat and excess fatty tissue in the right ventricle.

Hugh Calkins, the lead investigator, said that an implantable defibrillator appears to eliminate the risk of sudden death and to be far more effective than medication.

"Physicians need to know that this is a serious disease, and they should be on the lookout for its early signs and symptoms because it is an important cause of sudden cardiac death in apparently healthy young individuals," he said.

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