Acquire the license to the best health content in the world
Contact Us

Stem Cells Stem Heart Damage

Study finds injections improved function in those with severe congestive heart failure

MONDAY, April 26, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Injecting adult stem cells into the damaged heart tissue of people with severe congestive heart failure significantly improved their heart function, says a study by American and Argentinian scientists.

The researchers say their results offer the first convincing evidence that this use of stem cells to promote the growth of heart muscle and blood vessels may be a viable treatment for congestive heart failure.

The study included 20 people with severe heart failure who had ejection fractions less than 35 percent. Ejection fraction -- a standard measure of heart function -- is determined by the total amount of blood pumped out by the left ventricle with each heartbeat.

A person is considered to have a good heart function when the ejection fraction is at least 55 percent.

Ten of the patients in the study had only cardiac bypass surgery and the other 10 had bypass surgery and stem cells injected into their damaged heart tissue during the surgery.

Before surgery, the patients who received the stem cells in addition to bypass surgery had an average ejection fraction of 29.4 percent, while those who had bypass surgery alone had an average ejection fraction of 30.7 percent.

Six months after surgery, the stem cell patients had an average ejection fraction of 46.1 percent compared with 37.2 percent for those who had surgery alone.

"These results encourage us to aggressively pursue cellular therapies as an option for congestive heart failure. It will revolutionize our approach, which is largely palliative, to one that is truly regenerative," study co-author Dr. Robert L. Kormos, medical director of the University of Pittsburgh's McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, said in a prepared statement.

The research was presented April 25 at the annual meeting of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery in Toronto.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about congestive heart failure.

SOURCE: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, news release, April 25, 2004
Consumer News