British scientists will soon begin a trial to see whether electricity can be used to shrink the heart of patients suffering from heart disease. The procedure will reduce the size of the heart and improve life expectancy.
The technique involves electrically stimulating nerves leading up to the heart. The experiment has been done on rats and dogs, who were found to have been kept alive longer, the Telegraph reported.
The first human patient will be operated on im May by surgeons at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital and The Royal Liverpool University Hospital.
Heart failure affects nearly one million people in Britain.
The surgeons will fit a device similar to a pacemaker to the vagus nerve which runs to the heart. The electrical stimulation should protect the heart from the effects of the hormone adrenaline, they said.
Jay Wright, a consultant cardiologist at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, told BBC: "We're hoping it will shrink the heart, but it might not be to normal size."
Shrinkage "would lead to improvement in symptoms. We know that the bigger the heart the worse the symptoms," he said.
Around 100 patients will take part in the trial at 30 hospitals around the world, the report said.
The first will be Carl Jordan, a former paramedic. He has had several heart attacks which have damaged his heart, causing it to become enlarged.