About Heart Disease Stem Cell Treatment
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Heart disease is caused when the heart is damaged and loses its efficiency in pumping blood through the circulatory system.
The heart is made up of several cell types. Researchers usually focus on three cell types for the purpose of mending heart tissue that is damaged. These are:
Congestive heart Failure
- Cardiomyocytes: This is the beating muscle cells which make up the atria. The atria is the chamber where blood enters the ventricles and heart and where blood is pumped out if your heart.
- Endothelial cells: These line the blood vessels and are important in delivering oxygen to cardiomyocytes
- Cardiac pacemaker cells: These receive and send electrical signals to keep the heart beating in rhythm.
This is a general term which describes a condition whereby the heart pumps blood weakly. The weakness varies from person to person but over time it typically gets worse. Because the blood cannot circulate fast enough, pressure increases in the heart and to compensate the heart chambers, they stretch to hold more blood or the chamber walls may thicken. Eventually, this leads to the kidneys response of retaining more salt and water. Conditions that may lead to congestive heart failure consists of:
How are stem cells used to understand heart disease?
- Heart attacks
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Diseases that overwork the heart such as high blood pressure, thyroid disease, and heart defects
Heart disease research aims at understanding what happens in heart disease and how to find solutions to prevent heart damage or to repair and replaces damaged cells and tissue.
This is done by understanding how the heart works and what roles different cells play in disease as well as normal function. How cardiomyocytes and cardiac pacemaker cells operate is greatly studied in order to understand how they communicate with each other and how they respond when damage occurs.What is the potential for stem cells to treat heart disease?
Undoing damage to the heart is key to treating heart disease and researchers are trying various tactics with stem cells. This is with the aim f replacing or repairing damaged heart tissue caused by heart attacks or congestive heart failure.Areas under research include:
- Cell transplantation: This focuses on investigating the various cell types and ways that they can be transplanted into a damaged heart. Researchers are also investigating cardiomyocytes transplantation. It still remains to be seen if the transplanted cells survive and function and what role they play in improving the heart repair mechanisms.
- Stimulating regeneration of cardiomyocytes by the resident heart cells: Researchers are investigating ways to reprogram some of the heart’s structural cells or scar tissue to become cardiomyocytes. They are also looking at ways to deliver drugs that stimulate the growth of cardiomyocytes.
- New approaches to deliver cells to the heart: To improve the function and survival of transplanted cells tissue engineering approaches are investigated.
Human cells are also used to create human models of heart diseases. This is in order to better understand exactly what goes wrong and for testing various treatments and drugs. Human cells can also be used to study which patients might have severe cardiac side effects from drugs.
Researchers are also using various types of stem cells to investigate the natural repair mechanism of the heart and test ways that can enhance the repair functions.
Learn more about Heart Disease