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Treatment of Heart Disease Revolutionized by Stem Cells

The Hindu, June 22, 2007

A leading cardiologist is saying that the treatment of heart disease has been revolutionized by the concept of "growing" heart muscle and vascular tissue and manipulating the myocardial cellular environment by using stem cell therapy.

City-based Harvey Super Specialties Hospital Chairman M P Naresh Kumar told reporters that adult stem cells harvested from peripheral blood or bone marrow are capable of replicating, differentiating and promoting heart muscle (myocardial) repair.

He said that recently, adult stem cells have proven themselves to have great therapeutic benefit and clinical relevance for the treatment of heart disease, even though there is still experimental work that must be completed.

Severe heart disease cases that have been treated successfully with adult blood stem cell infusions were cited as examples of recent stem cell success by Kumar. Once such example involved a 53-year-old woman. After all other treatments proved to yield no benefit, the woman, who also suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure was treated using adult stem cells.

A heart transplant was out of the question for her and beyond her means. Her ejection fraction had dropped to 35 percent and she had severe heart failure. Diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, she underwent stem cell therapy as last resort.

Upon discharge following cell therapy, her ejection fraction had already increased to 49 percent. She was infused using a catheter technique via a coronary route.

The accessibility, safety, feasibility, and cost effectiveness, of stem cell therapy was pointed out by Kumar.

He remarked that the treatment cost a relatively small sum of Rs 25,000 (about $610 dollars), where if the treatment had been performed in the United States it would have cost about Rs 40 lakh.


 

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