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What is the impact of high heart rate on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain?

With an elevated heart rate, hydraulic shock to vessels is increased, leading to higher impedance from the brain, negatively affecting imaging. The ability to separate the contributions from the cardiac cycle will enable two things: (1) better discernment at different physiological states and (2) improved diagnosis of different diseases and disorders.

This movie shows the optical flow (vector arrows showing magnitude and direction of the relative movement of the brain) of a male volunteer baseline amplified MRI (aMRI).

Through the AMRF's Sir Douglas Robb Memorial fund, Dr Eryn Kwon and collaborators were able to acquire and compare amplified MRI scans at resting and elevated heart rates for proof-of-concept testing of this technique. They found they were able to compensate for the additional brain motion seen in MRI caused by increased heart rate.

From this preliminary funding, they can now expand their studies to further refine the technique and make the sequence viable as a routine clinical scan. As this is a post-processing technique, it is easily accessible for the general public and will improve diagnosis of neurological diseases, which is a significant health concern not just in New Zealand but worldwide.

Read more about heart health, blood pressure, MRI and more medical research in our 2021 annual report.


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