Researchers and Doctors alike pursuing the field of stem cell research in treating heart attack survivors

Key Takeaways:

  • Cardiovascular Disease is the #1 killer in the world registering more than 17 million deaths every year.
  • Cardiopoietic Stem Cell Therapy is on cue with restoring cardiac muscle back to its predeceased state
  • The extent of damage that a heart attack signifies needs more than a large correction from itself which does not bear any relation with the truth.
  • Consecutive heart attacks lead to heart failure
  • The only light in the dark for a heart attack survivor is in favour of stem cell therapy that is very encouraging in giving an alternate life to cardiovascular patients


The effects of myocardial infarction (heart attack) and congestive heart failure is a daunting task facing doctors and researchers alike. Heart attacks cause irreversible damage to the heart by weakening the heart muscle and making it less efficient in pumping blood through the circulatory system. It is noteworthy to remember that heart cannot take care of itself, meaning it has got minimum strength to regenerate whereby the untraceable muscle is replaced by a scar tissue. This leaves patients with a reduced cardiac role, which often leads to heart failure when the heart fails to accede to the demand placed upon it by the body in distributing blood. Current diagnosis treats the fallible symptoms such as low blood pressure but does not go to the seat of all problems. It is very well understood by this paradigm that heart  is very reluctant and on second thoughts does not offer itself for being substituted for by the body.

Mayo Clinics are attributed with introduction of repairing heart attacks in individuals with aid of stem cells. Stem Cells restore cardiac muscle back to its original form meaning, the condition it was in before the heart attack, thus giving a roadmap to how the stem cells may function. Doctors at Mayo Research believe in the mouse model with the mouse prototype being an initial foray into advanced clinical trials in heart patients.

A study published in NPJ Regenerative Medicine digs out that human cardiopoietic cells present in the bone marrow mutate with defunct proteins to      counter complex changes caused by a heart attack. The cardiopoietic cells are derived from stem cell sources of bone marrow.

The extent of transformation that a heart attack bears is too large for the heart attack to correct itself or to prevent any complexities from arising. However, cardiopoetic stem cell therapy induces change for the better partially or fully with minimum 85% of cellular functions promising to respond favourably to treatment. This was reiterated by Dr. Andre Terzic of Mayo clinic’s Center to Regenerative Medicine. He is senior author in this study.

Consecutive Heart Attacks leads to heart failure:

The heart muscles are sustained by an oxygen-rich blood flow to keep the heart pumping-contracting and expanding. However, during a heart attack, the arteries leading the blood flow are hindered by blockages in the artery. With no further outgo of blood, that area of the heart that is sourced by the artery begins to collapse involuntarily and a unhealthy scar tissue forms in the area. This could lead to a heart failure that eventually gives rise to heart failure.

A new insight into how stem cells repair the lifeless heart could pave the way to finding how stem cell therapy can help in the broader scheme of things.

The incisive insight in study of stem cells is lacking as to how it will rejuvenate other functional mechanisms, throwing light on the most intimate yet singularly comprehensive or regenerative mechanism in the body. Though customarily heart is considered to be a tough customer, it fails to pump blood as efficiently as it could from decapitated areas, and is the reason behind patients who have suffered a heart attack need to ingest a life-time of medicines to mitigate another heart attack and ensure its smooth functioning.

Heart Attack is the leading cause of death in the U.S as noted by Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The research additionally states that in a heart attack, the cardiac tissue dies involuntarily, thus weakening the heart.

The diseased heart responded to cardiopoeitic stem cell treatment with growth of blood vessels along with new heart tissue, so said Kent Arreli, Phd, Mayo Clinic Cardiovascular Researcher and first author of the study.

The Research: Leading the way

There is this research that delves upon the diseased hearts of mice that did not receive human cardiopoietic stem cell therapy with those that did. The result gave vent to the belief that more than 4000 cardiac proteins were present, 10 % of which suffered damages by a heart attack.

While we were always expecting a normal heart function after this study, the present outcome quite bewildered us where the diseased hearts shifted to and fro and came to rest on a healthy pre-diseased heart.

Cardiopoietic Stem Cells are being put to test in advanced clinical trials in heart patients.

It has been corroborated that current findings in stem cell therapy will bring some additional guidance and will steer therapeutic exercise in the near future.

Though it has to this point been proven, the fruitful remedies of stem cell therapies for heart failure, there are several unproven stem cell remedy experiments that are not still not ready to exercise in the real world.

A heart attack has been understood to happen when blood supply is cut-off to that portion of the heart muscle that causes irreparable damage and with time and many repeat attacks, a scar is formed resulting in a heart failure!

It is for over 2 decades that scientists have studied the positive benefits of stem cells which might repair a frail and damaged heart and restore it and these cell types can be made from other cells also coming as it does under the umbrella tern cardiac regeneration.

Cardiac Regeneration:

Cardiomyocites are highlighted here that are the beating muscle cells located in the chamber of the heart, Although scientists can grow cardiomycites in the lab from embryonic stem cells, growing them  from the heart itself is showcasing itself plausibly.

Stem cells are inserted in the heart using a catheter. These stem cells are taken from the bone marrow and now that they are in place, they rejuvenate damaged heart tissues. There are pros and cons with this technique of insertion of stem cells into the heart. Having said that, it comes as no surprise when a donor who may be a stranger donates a stem cell which could be unacceptable to the body. But a positive point is that donor problems do not pose a big problem that helps the doctors to forge ahead relentlessly.

Long term effects are a bother still and more trials have to be conducted to probe the longevity question.

Though it comes as no surprise now with stem cells being delivered to the heart is possible and error-free, but the evidence is not noteworthy. There are 61 centers in all in the United States that accomplish the stem cell therapy to bring to life people with heart failure. These centers charge an estimated USD 7694 for a single treatment of autologous stem cells. ( from one’s own body) which portrays a lot of scope with some 17 patients who were infused with stem cells taken  from their own hearts to succeed in an unequivocal way.

Wrapping Up:

Two methods have come to light so far in passing stem cells into the body with one coming from external donors and the other being fed by one’s own body. It has to be revealed still as to which method comes as more cogent in its delivery. When can one say with authority that stem cell therapy has come to stay? It is a few years down the line, some say with a view that it is work in progress and others are of the opinion that there is much work to be done.