Stem Cells Injected Into Heart Boost Pumping Ability After Heart Attack


November 7, 2007

November 7, 2007 - Patients’ own stem cells injected into their hearts after treatment for an ST elevation heart attack improved their hearts’ improved pumping ability, researchers reported during a late-breaking special session on stem cell research at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2007.

In the IM-BMC randomized, double-blind trial, researchers assessed the safety and efficacy of injecting sufferers’ own stem cells into their hearts. The patients had been initially treated with clot-busting drugs, followed by percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).

Past studies have yielded mixed results regarding the effect of injecting patients’ own bone marrow cells to treat reduced heart function, irregular heartbeat and re-blockages in stented arteries.

Researchers enrolled 80 patients who had had an ST elevation heart attack and they were randomly selected to receive intracoronary bone marrow or placebo injections in the heart or placebo injections. These procedures were performed 0-3 days after bone marrow cell (BMC) delivery and repeated six months after the STEMI.

At six months, the patients randomized to BMC therapy (n=33) showed a significant increase of their global ejection fraction (EF) measured by angiography (from 59±8% to 67±9, p<0.0001) and 2-D echocardiography (p<0.01). The EF remained unchanged in the placebo group (n=33) evaluated both by angiography and 2-D echocardiography (NS for both), with the mean EF being 62±12% at baseline and 64±14% at six months in angiography (p=0.02 for the change in EF between the BMC and placebo group).

Researchers observed no differences between the groups in the measures of heart rate variability, signal-averaged electrocardiogram, prevalence of positive T-wave alternans tests, or the minimal lumen diameter and area of the stented culprit lesion.

“This study shows intracoronary BMC-therapy is associated with an improvement of global left ventricular function and no adverse effects on arrhythmia risk profile or restenosis of the stented coronary lesions in patients treated with thrombolytic therapy followed by PCI of an acute ST elevation heart attack,” said Heikki Huikuri, M.D., lead investigator and professor of medicine and director of cardiology sector at the University of Oulu Hospital in Oulu, Finland.

Support for this study was provided by the Finnish Academy of Science, Helsinki, Finland and Boston Scientific Inc.

Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The American Heart Association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability.

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