Development and validation of blood-based biomarkers for improved heart failure management

Heart failure (HF) is a progressive condition wherein the heart is unable to fill its chambers and/or pump sufficient blood into the arteries. While there are many causes of HF, it usually presents in two major forms: HF with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF; ‘stiff’ heart), and HF with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF; ‘baggy’ or ‘weak’ heart). 

A key challenge in HF diagnosis is that, while the causes of HFpEF and HFrEF differ, their clinical presentation is often the same. As a routine echocardiogram in HFpEF can appear normal, the diagnosis can be overlooked and delayed. In clinical practice, the diagnosis of HF is often made late, at which time evidence-based treatments or other lifestyle strategies may have less benefit for those with HFrEF. At the same time, many HFpEF patients are being treated with drugs that provide no proven benefit. 

Dr. Singh will investigate novel, non-invasive diagnostic approaches that can identify patients with HFpEF versus HFrEF at an early stage of disease. The results of this research will include innovative methods for data integration and biomarker discovery, which will improve biological insights into the mechanisms of HF. Identifying the form of HF earlier on will allow clinicians to develop and tailor diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, and use a firm diagnosis as a tool to encourage lifestyle changes. 

Diagnosis of HFpEF versus HFrEF will ensure that the most appropriate additional tests and treatments can be provided for each patient in a timely fashion, improving disease management and patient quality of life.