Looking for ways to pre-empt onset of cardiovascular disease – the number one killer worldwide – scientists have devised a novel way to monitor the health of heart muscle. It works by measuring how much of a chemical called creatine is present. Our bodies naturally produce creatine to help transport energy to muscles, but without oxygen its production is limited. When arteries are partially blocked, the blood may be unable to transport enough oxygen, resulting in less muscle creatine. Pictured are colour-coded maps of creatine levels (red is high, blue is low) in a region of pigs and sheep hearts. The healthy hearts (top row) show evenly spread, high levels of creatine, but parts of the damaged hearts (bottom row) show only small amounts of creatine. These areas are being starved of oxygen. Using these maps doctors will be able to detect heart disorders much earlier on, helping to prevent heart attacks.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.