The cardiovascular system supplies the body with blood a whole life long, in rest and exercise, in health and disease. The heart generates blood flow by contraction of muscle fibers oriented in a complex spiral pattern. It is doing this without interruption by constantly adapting itself to new physiological and pathological conditions. But sometimes, small irregularities in blood flow present already in the fetal heart or secondary to acquired disease or surgery can lead to a cascade of more severe abnormalities, including thrombus formation, hemolysis, atherosclerosis, vascular aneurysm formation, and heart failure.
This spectrum of disorders can only be understood at a basic level by assessing blood flow dynamics and wall mechanics, and tissue characterization which are sensitive to the complex abnormalities at play. Unfortunately, the majority of non-invasive imaging approaches available today are limited to the assessment of morphology, while invasive approaches only provide local measures. This severely hampers cardiovascular diagnostics and our understanding of cardiovascular physiology.
Multidisciplinary research and novel imaging methods
Blood flow in a human heartThe multidisciplinary Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance research group at Linköping University aims to gain incremental insight into the cardiovascular system in health and disease by development and application of novel imaging methods for quantification of blood flow, wall motion, and tissue characterization. We have extended the diversity of magnetic resonance imaging and utilized it to study blood flow patterns, turbulence intensity, myocardial deformation, and tissue characterization, but we make also use of other imaging modalities like ultrasound and computer tomography. By combining these unique imaging data, both clinical and experimental, with biomechanical modeling principles, and molecular biology data, novel assessments approaches and new insights into cardiovascular function and disease are obtained.
Advanced assessment of cardiovascular blood flow, wall motion, and tissue characterization has the potential to provide earlier and more accurate detection, improved treatment planning and follow-up of a spectrum of cardiovascular disorders, leading to optimized treatment of the individual patient, a better patient quality of life and reduced healthcare spending.