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Patient's Own Stem Cells Might Treat Heart Attack

Infusing cells into damaged area helped restore blood flow, researchers say

TUESDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Treating a heart attack with the patients' own bone marrow stem cells boosts blood flow within the heart and may help reduce long-term complications, a new U.S. study finds.

The study included 31 patients who underwent angioplasty and stent placement after a heart attack. Within one week of the attacks, 16 of the patients received infusions of their own bone marrow cells into the coronary artery in which a blockage had caused the event.

The 16 patients received different amounts of bone marrow stem cells -- 5 million, 10 million and 15 million cells. The 15 patients in the control group received standard medication only. All the patients were followed for up to five years.

After three to six months, patients who received higher doses of bone marrow stem cells showed greater improvement in blood flow within the heart than patients who received lower doses and those in the control group, the researchers said.

"This is critical information for future study design -- the more cells a patient receives, the more beneficial effect we see in the heart," principal investigator Dr. Arshed Quyyumi, a professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, said in a news release.

The researchers also found that higher doses of bone marrow stem cells appeared to help cardiac function, as determined by measuring the percentage of blood pumped out with each heartbeat, and by measuring the amount of tissue death due to inadequate blood supply. However, these results were not considered statistically significant, the researchers stressed.

The study was to have been presented Monday at the American College of Cardiology conference in Orlando, Fla.

"These results show that treatment with a patient's own bone marrow stem cells has the potential to reduce long-term complications after a heart attack. We are encouraged by these results and are planning to conduct a more extensive study," Quyyumi said.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about cardiac rehabilitation.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Emory University, news release, March 30, 2009

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