Stem cells offer hope to heart attack victims
Let’s be honest here. Prevention isn’t very flashy. You’ll never make headlines if you don’t have a heart attack… or brain cancer… or kidney failure. That’s why plenty of people tend to ignore the keys to healthful living right up until the day they suffer a massive heart attack. Then suddenly they want a miracle cure to fix the damage done by years of too much sugar, too much carbs, and too much junk.
It’s too much to ask of the medical field. Well, at least it used to be too much to ask. But thanks to modern science, miracle cures are becoming a reality.
Last year, I told you about a revolutionary treatment that I believe has the potential to change medicine forever: stem cell therapy. Using adult stem cells (preferably your own) is not only safe and ethical, but it unlocks the greatest healing power our bodies have ever known.
When I first told you about stem cell therapy, I told you that doctors all over the world (except in the U.S.) were already performing stem cells transplants in place of entire organ transplants. (If you want to see the details, read the January issue.)
Since then, the research has continued, and the news keeps getting better. Recently, researchers from the University Medical Center Utrecht and the Hubrecht Institute have made yet another amazing breakthrough:
They can grow new heart muscle cells from adult human hearts
This is especially good news for heart attack victims. Since the blood supply to part of the heart is cut off during a heart attack, part of the heart muscle itself gets scarred and doesn’t pump as well. This can lead to congestive heart failure, and about 5 million people in the U.S. alone are suffering the effects.
The best thing you can do for these patients is to fix any blockages and give them drugs (or the occasional heart transplant). Once you receive a congestive heart failure diagnosis, though, you have a 50/50 chance of kicking the bucket within five years of your diagnosis no matter what form of treatment you’ve been given.
But why settle for a Band-Aid treatment if you could experience real healing? I’m not talking about repairing your broken heart——I’m talking about growing a brand new one.
During open-heart surgery, the surgeons can take a bit of the material gathered from an open-heart operation, isolate the stem cells in a lab, and——poof!——the cells grow into fully developed, functioning heart muscle cells. And by functioning, I mean they actually contract rhythmically (as in during a heartbeat), they respond to electrical activity, and they react to adrenaline——just like your actual heart muscle does.
The healing potential of stem cells never ceases to astound me.
Professor Pieter Doevendans, the principal investigator of the research, said, “We’re able to make heart muscle cells in unprecedented quantities, and on top of it they’re all the same. This is good news in terms of treatment, as well as for scientific research and testing of potentially new drugs.”
Of course, it always comes back to “developing new drugs”… but don’t let that put a sour taste in your mouth. Drugs or no drugs, this stem cell therapy is going to revolutionize how we treat heart attack victims… starting with a man named Ken Milles.
Hope for the Tinman… no wizard necessary
Not having a heart wasn’t Ken’s issue… it was having a damaged one. At 39 years old, he had a serious heart attack and was told that he had suffered permanent damage to his heart muscle and would likely die prematurely.
That’s when Ken decided to volunteer to participate in a clinical trial, where he became the first person to undergo this cutting-edge treatment. The surgeons took a tiny bit of his healthy heart tissue and sent it to the lab. In a matter of weeks, those cells had multiplied to 25 million healthy cells. The surgeons then “deposited” the lab-grown stem cells into the damaged area of his heart.
“We seek to actually reverse the injury that has been caused by the heart attack, by re-growing new heart muscle to at least partially replace the scar that’s formed,” said Dr. Eduardo Marban of Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute.
The final results of the clinical trial haven’t been published yet, but at Ken’s six-month checkup, everything appeared to be progressing as planned.