Stem cell therapy may increase the chances for heart failure

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Researchers found that using patient’s own cardiac stem cells to repair damaged heart tissue may not only be ineffective, but that the stem cells may also develop inflammatory properties that cause further heart damage.

In the United States, around 5.7 million adults are living with heart failure. The condition occurs when the heart is no longer able to pump enough oxygen-rich blood to fulfill the body’s needs. There is currently no cure for heart failure. In some cases, the condition can be managed through medication and lifestyle changes. For people with end-stage heart failure, however, there are limited treatment options.

Heart transplantation remains the primary treatment for end-stage heart failure, but there are not enough donor hearts to meet recipient needs. Organ Transplantation and Procurement Network shows that there are more than 3,900 patients in the U.S. waiting for a heart transplant. Last year, 3,191 heart transplants were performed.

One treatment that is gaining popularity among patients with end-stage heart failure is autologous stem cell therapy. This involves using the patient’s own stem cells to promote the regeneration of heart muscle and blood vessel cells.

Stem cells may be derived from the patient’s bone marrow or heart tissue. This  study suggests that using the latter may do more harm than good.

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