Low-dose exposure to chemical warfare agent may result in long-term heart damage

October 13, 2010, American Heart Association

New research found that the pattern of heart dysfunction with sarin exposure in mice resembles that seen in humans. Sarin is a chemical warfare agent belonging to class of compounds called organophosphates — the basis for insecticides, herbicides and nerve agents. As an inhibitor of the nervous system enzyme acetylcholinesterase, sarin can cause convulsions, stoppage of breathing and death.

Aiming to determine the delayed cardiac effects of sarin, researchers studied mice injected with sarin — at doses too low to produce visible symptoms — 10 weeks after the exposure.

"The two-month period was used to simulate the late onset effect of sarin/nerve agents in gulf war veterans," said Mariana Morris, director of the research program. "There are suggestions that gulf war illness; in which symptoms are long-lasting, may be related to exposure to low-dose agents."

Cardiac damage detected in sarin-exposed mice at 10 weeks, but not earlier, included:

  • Left ventricular dilation, meaning the heart's left ventricle is larger.
  • Prolonged ventricular repolarization, an electrical conduction anomaly that could lead to rhythm abnormalities.
  • Reduction in contractility, the extent of ventricular contraction and hence the amount of blood pumped from the ventricle when it contracts.
"These results have implications for the military in times of conflict and for civilian populations in cases of environmental or occupational exposure," Morris said.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Smartphones are bad for some teens, not all

February 21, 2018
Is the next generation better or worse off because of smartphones? The answer is complex and research shows it largely depends on their lives offline.

Lead and other toxic metals found in e-cigarette 'vapors': study

February 21, 2018
Significant amounts of toxic metals, including lead, leak from some e-cigarette heating coils and are present in the aerosols inhaled by users, according to a study from scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public ...

Tackling health problems in the young is crucial for their children's future

February 21, 2018
A child's growth and development is affected by the health and lifestyles of their parents before pregnancy - even going back to adolescence - according to a new study by researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, ...

Why teens need up to 10 hours' sleep

February 21, 2018
Technology, other distractions and staying up late make is difficult, but researchers say teenagers need to make time for 8-10 hours of sleep a night to optimise their performance and maintain good health and wellbeing.

Electronic health records don't reduce administrative costs

February 21, 2018
The federal government thought that adopting certified electronic health record systems (EHR) would reduce administrative costs for physicians in a variety of specialties. However, a major new study conducted by researchers ...

Low-fat or low-carb? It's a draw, study finds

February 20, 2018
New evidence from a study at the Stanford University School of Medicine might dismay those who have chosen sides in the low-fat versus low-carb diet debate.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.