Monday, January 26, 2009
Medical Reports: Healing Hearts
It could be a huge breakthrough in the way doctors treat heart attack patients and the damage left behind. Seven's Richard Lemus shows us how doctors are using adult stem cells in hopes of Healing Hearts.
WSVN -- After a heart attack strikes, the heart is often left scarred, damaged.
Dr. Joshua Hare: "It damages a part of the heart muscle, and the damage of that heart muscle then leads to heart failure."
Max Eaton is getting a serious reminder of the heart attack he suffered eight years ago. Because of the damage, his heart is now starting to fail.
Max Eaton: "I kind of cruised along for seven years, and, as fate would have it, I started noticing the symptoms of heart failure, and I was experiencing some shortness of breath that I was not noticing before."
Traditionally, doctors believed damage from a heart attack was irreversible, but now University of Miami cardiologist Joshua Hare is trying to find out if adult stem cells can help heal the heart.
Max Eaton: "I have an opportunity with this to see some repair of the heart muscle and by doing so have it work more efficiently."
Max joined an early-stage study at UM where he had his own stem cells injected into his heart by a catheter.
Dr. Joshua Hare: "Our goal is to try and fix the damage in the heart muscle by injecting stem cells right from the bone marrow right into the damaged area."
Here's how it works: Doctors feed this corkscrew catheter through the groin area into the damaged areas of the heart.
Dr. Alan Heldman: "We would bring that up, and touch it against the inside of the heart, screw it into heart muscle, inject the cells, unscrew it and move to different parts of the heart and inject cells there."
Since stem cells have the ability to develop into a wide variety of cells, doctors hope they will turn into muscle cells, repairing the damage of the heart. They also hope the new catheter procedure will one day replace the more severe open-heart surgery.
Dr. Alan Heldman: "Having a treatment that can actually repair the heart is going to make people feel better. It will be great if it makes people live longer."
It's only been a couple of months since Max's procedure, but he feels great and is optimistic.
Max Eaton: "If I can get a few more years of quality of life, that's what I hope for."
Anyone interested in being a part of this study can contact the University of Miami Cardiac Division right now. They are only treating people who have had a heart attack in the past.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Joshua Hare
UM Miller School of Medicine/ Stem Cell Institue
Patients who are interested in being enrolled should call (305) 243-1998 or (305) 243-5138.