Scientists claim a new scanning technique could identify people at risk of sudden collapse and death due to a hidden heart condition.
Normally, signs of structural changes in the heart of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can only be detected after death
However, Oxford University researchers used microscopic imaging to identify the same patterns in living patients.
The disease is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young people One in 500 people in the UK who can be fatal in a small number of people.
Footballer Fabrice Muamba suffered an almost deadly cardiac arrest during a match, while David Frost's son Miles suddenly died while jogging at the age of 31.  Yet, many of those with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM have little or no warning symptoms – and some can live a completely normal life.
The research team focused on detecting people at risk of sudden death by looking for abnormal fibrous patterns in the heart that could lead to potentially fatal heart rhythms.
It is believed that this affects 1% of those affected.
You can then have a small device implanted in your heart to get it beating again if an abnormal heart rhythm is detected.
Dr. Rina Ariga, study author and cardiologist at the University of Oxford, said, "We hope this new scan will improve the way we identify high-risk patients so they can get an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator early to prevent a sudden death . "
She added," We must now work to perform this scan. For patients shorter and faster, so we can test their utility in a large multicenter study. "
Currently, the calculation of a patient's risk is based on the thickness of his heart wall, his family history, and any unexplained breakdowns and cardiac arrhythmias.
The difference with the Oxford researchers' approach is that they used MRI scans. Look at detailed images of the structure of the heart muscle to look for "muscle fiber disorder."
This suggests that heartbeats must not spread evenly across the muscle fibers of the heart.
The study, published in the Journal of The American College of Cardiology, examined 50 patients with HCM and 30 healthy volunteers and found "disorder" in living patients with heart disease previously seen only in patients with sudden cardiac death.
more likely abnormal heart rhythms.
The technique called diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging is normally used in the brain.
Dr. Steven Cox, chief executive of the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young, said: "It is fantastic to believe these future clinical outcomes could be identified in patients with HCM who are used to helping with routine diagnosis and treatment."  Dr. Cox said that the key to identifying people at risk in the general population is "using the inexpensive and non-invasive ECG test [electrocardiogram]" in cardiac screening.
This offer can be booked through the Children's Test My Heart website, which is under 35 years old.
Prof. Metin Avkiran, Deputy Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, which contributed to funding the research, said, "Although further work is needed to refine and test this scan, its potential benefit for patients with HCM is enormous. " This work is an excellent example of state-of-the-art, research-led technology that could change the way we diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease. "