Abnormal heart rhythm (e.g. heart block) is often seen as a symptom of DM1. The exact cause of this arrhythmia has been the subject of much research and it is thought to be myocardial fibrosis. This is when there is a problem with the heart’s muscle cells which causes hardening or scarring of heart tissue. Heart muscle cells (myocytes) are replaced with tissue that cannot contract properly and this stops the heart from beating regularly.
These cardiac complications are serious and can lead in most severe cases to the death of the person affected. Currently there are no agreed recommendations on when, how often or to what extent people with DM1 should be monitored for heart abnormalities by their doctors.
OPTIMISTIC aims to:
- Establish procedures that can be used to screen and monitor cardiac function in DM1 patients effectively.
- Use state of the art magnetic resonance technologies to observe the cardiac changes in people with DM1.