What Happens When Heart Disease Advances too Far?

For patients with congestive heart failure, treatments are limited to a heart transplant. However, a new heart procedure currently under development shows promise as a future alternative to heart transplant surgery.

Autologous skeletal myoblast transplantation is the process of taking a patient’s skeletal muscle cells from the thigh, culturing millions of new cells, and then injecting these autologous myoblast cells directly into damaged areas of the heart. The injected cells then take on characteristics of new cardiac muscle cells. This is a hot topic of research because it is a potential way to repair permanently damaged heart muscle. Procedures such as cardiac catherization, angioplasty and stenting to open occluded vessels have proved effective in restoring blood flow but cannot reverse pre-existing damage.

Myoblast transplantation is considered very low risk because the cells are transplanted from the patient’s own body, so they won’t be rejected. Earlier studies on the procedure showed improved cardiac function based on echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart) in patients who received myoblast cell transplantation in combination with coronary artery bypass surgery.

Until alternatives for heart transplant surgery are developed and perfected, more people with end-stage congestive heart failure are added to heart transplant waiting lists. Unfortunately, not enough organs are available, and as patients wait for available hearts their health continues to deteriorate.

When it comes to heart disease, it appears prevention is still best. Although one risk factor that can’t be modified is family history, heart health can be improved through lifestyle changes and medications.

Source: Ivanhoe News

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