Patching Up a Broken Heart with Stem Cells

A new study shows tremendous promise for patients suffering from heart failure. The study was conducted on 27 patients whose heart failure therapy had still not resolved their symptoms and extracted their own stem cells from the thigh muscle of each patient. The extracted stem cells were then formed into a sheet and placed on each patient’s heart. Researchers then monitored patients over the next year and noted signs of improvement in their symptoms. Further investigation revealed that the stem cells didn’t just become new cells within the heart muscle as predicted, but they promoted new blood vessels to grow in the areas of the heart that were damaged.

Could This Be the Beginning of Stem Cell Therapy for Heart Disease?
The study was in the earliest trial phases, designed to establish whether the idea was feasible and safe to continue onto later, more extensive trials that could eventually lead to successes that brought it into standard practice. It was considered an early success and researchers say the new trials are underway to further study how this method can help improve stem cell therapy for cardiac patients.

“In the past, stem cell therapy has been used in the form of injections taken from the bone marrow of the patient and injected into their heart,” said Dr. Ahvie Herskowitz, founder of San Francisco Stem Cell Treatment Center.

“The number one cause of death is cardiovascular disease. In order to treat heart disease, we must find a way to repair the heart,” he said. “We are pioneering new ways to use stem cells to repair and sometimes even replace the damaged heart tissue.”

Heart Disease in America
Heart disease claims almost one million lives each year and is the number one cause of death for women and men in the United States. It kills more Americans than all forms of cancer put together. In 2011 alone, heart disease killed nearly 787,000 Americans according to the Heart Foundation. In the United States, a heart attack occurs every 34 seconds, and every 60 seconds someone dies from a heart-related experience.

Stem Cell Therapy in the United States
Stem cell therapy is being used more and more all over the United States. As more research is done and as technology advances, doctors and physicians are finding out just how much stem cells have to offer modern medicine.

At Herskowitz’s practice, they are being used to treat patients with everything from joint and back pain to neurological and autoimmune disorders, in addition to heart disease.

“Many patients whose joint pain comes from bone on bone conditions in their knees, elbows and other areas just don’t want to undergo the pain and long recovery time of surgery,” he said. “But our patients have seen great relief when treated with stem cell therapy and have been able to avoid surgery as a result of it.”

Finding new ways to treat patients with stem cell therapy is one a key focus in scientific research right now with new studies coming out daily. Some scientists believe that with a little more time, the benefits and opportunities of stem cell therapy could prove limitless.