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Priming Heart Before an Attack Could Limit Damage
Date:1/10/2008

a signaling pathway known as JAK-STAT in normal hearts, Butler explained. The next step, she said, will be to see if activating the same mechanism can work in hearts that have been exposed to high blood pressure.

The American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology was expected to publish the study in its January issue.

Butler cautioned that the findings are preliminary. She said it is especially important for anyone experiencing ischemia, such as angina, to get medical treatment as soon as possible. "This is obviously investigational work not reproduced in humans," she explained. "I'm not saying stay home and take your nitro and aspirin, and have your angina, and you'll be fine. Immediate medical attention is still the standard of care for patients with heart disease."

"As far as scientific importance, this is a blockbuster," said Dr. Stephen Lahey, director of cardiac surgery at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City. He suggested that, if the findings are validated by further research, the delivery of the protective factors of the JAK-STAT pathway could be very useful in heart surgery.

For example, if a drug were developed based on the findings, it could be added to the solution that currently is used when stopping a heart during open heart surgery, which would buy more time for the surgeon to complete his work, Lahey explained. Heart surgeons are always operating on the "razor's edge" between having enough time to make needed repairs and the deadline for restarting a heart to prevent fatal damage, he noted.

"Maybe this will be an important arrow in the cardiac surgeon's quiver to protect your heart during surgery and transplants and angioplasty," Lahey said. He added that there is "a possibility this could have widespread use and have a great impact on preserving heart muscle." However, the concept would have to go through very rigorous testing for a long time before it would be in cli
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