By Dennis Thompson Health Day Reporter
TUESDAY, Nov 16, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Heart failure patients who fit a specific profile may benefit from injecting stem cells delivered directly into their heart muscle, according to a new study.
Patients with mild or moderate heart failure who have high levels of inflammation have responded well to stem cell injections and have experienced a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiac death. , according to the results of clinical trials.
Stem cells injected into targeted areas of a failing heart are activated by inflammation and begin pumping out beneficial biochemicals, explained lead researcher Dr Emerson Perin, medical director of the Texas Heart Institute in Houston.
“These cells are small factories of different proteins, cytokines and other products that then have a local effect on the heart muscle cells,” Perin said, adding that the cells also help improve the health of large and small blood vessels. .
For this clinical trial, Perin and his colleagues recruited 537 people with advanced heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, that is, when the main pumping chamber on the left side of the heart is significantly weakened.
Half of the randomly selected patients received 150 million stem cells in targeted areas of the still active heart muscle, delivered in 15 to 20 injections in a single procedure, Perin said.
The areas were selected using a mapping system that found places in the heart where electrical activity was still occurring but could be hampered by inflammation.
The therapy did not significantly reduce the number of hospitalizations caused by heart failure, but researchers found that it improved participants’ heart health in other ways during an average 30-month follow-up:
- All of the patients who received stem cells experienced a 65% reduction in heart attacks and non-fatal strokes.
- Participants with high levels of inflammation were 79% less likely to have heart attacks or non-fatal strokes after stem cell therapy.
- Stem cell therapy reduced sudden cardiac death by 80% in people with high levels of inflammation and mild heart failure (ordinary physical activity causes fatigue, heart palpitations or shortness of breath) .
These results show that a personalized approach with stem cell therapy may help some with heart failure, Perin said.
Doctors have the ability to distinguish between patients with high levels of inflammation and mild or moderate heart failure, “and then we use a very precise way to deliver these cells to each patient exactly where they need to be placed.” Perin mentioned.
The results were presented Sunday at the American Heart Association’s annual online meeting. Research presented at medical meetings is considered preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed journal.
This new clinical trial “really is a promising study to provide additional information on potential subgroups of patients who could hopefully benefit from stem cell therapy,” said Dr Biykem Bozkurt, director of the Winters Center for Heart Failure at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
Bozkurt said future studies should be able to further refine and identify exactly who would benefit the most from stem cell therapy in patients with heart failure.
“There is always a need to do more research,” Bozkurt said.
SOURCES: Emerson Perin, MD, PhD, medical director, Texas Heart Institute, Houston; Biykem Bozkurt, MD, PhD, director, Winters Center for Heart Failure, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; American Heart Association Annual Meeting, November 14, 2021, online presentation
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