Approximately 6 million Americans suffer from heart disease which frequently leads to heart failure. Heart disease is a condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood into the body. When the heart cannot pump blood properly it can damage all of the organs in a person’s body.
In July of 2009, Michael Jones received the first stem cell infusion of his own cardiac stem cells as the result of a study conducted at the University of Louisville. Heart failure had left Michael so weak he could not climb stairs, exercise and could barely walk without significant difficulty.
The stem cell research study included 16 patients. Although it is far too early to definitively state that this revolutionary procedure will work on a larger scale, to date the results have been encouraging.
Four months after receiving stem cell infusions of their own stem cells:
- 9% of the patients showed improvements in the left ventricular function;
- 2 patients saw no improvement;
- patients saw 20% improvement;
- no adverse side effects have been reported; and
- zero patients have rejected the stem cells!
One of the biggest reasons there have been zero rejections and no negative side effects of the infusions is because each patient was infused with their own stem cells and not those of donors.
No one knows for sure if there will be any future side effects from using the stem cells because it is too soon. Yet if this procedure does work out it could have life-altering effects on millions of patients.
- Potential side effects include but are not limited to:
- Infection at the site of the catheterization;
- Increased bleeding (from thinner blood);
- Heart attack; or
The data is especially promising considering that when a patient has a drug-coated stent implanted in the arteries, doctors normally only see a 4% – 5% improvement after a heart attack. The stem cell treatments for heart disease conducted during the U of L study showed a 20% improvement rate.
Standard treatments for heart disease include various types of surgery such as stent placement, medications, heart transplants or heart pumps in an attempt to improve blood flow and extend a patient’s life. None of these treatments can strengthen the heart muscle after it has been damaged, however they can significantly improve a person’s quality of life as well as life span.
Congestive heart failure and heart attacks still remain one of the worst health challenges for doctors to deal with despite all the advances made in cardiovascular medicine. Recent research has shown that both adult and embryonic stem cells may be able to actually help replace and/or repair the damaged heart muscle.
More than 4.8 million people are affected by congestive heart failure, also known as myocardial infarction (or heart attacks). Regardless of what caused the heart attack, more than half of all patients with congestive heart failure die within five years of their initial diagnosis.
The new stem cell treatments for heart disease conducted in these and other studies give any person with heart disease fresh hope for a long, healthy life!