Heart Attack: New and Improved Treatments

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Heart Attack: New and Improved Treatments

During the onset of a heart attack, people report chest pain that extends to the neck and down to either arm/ Photo By Teeramet Thanomkiat via 123RF


When blood flow does not carry enough oxygen to the heart muscles, a heart attack occurs. Lack of oxygen can cause heart muscle cells to become damaged or die. Infarction is a wound or scar tissue and this damage can extend to other areas of the heart that did not get enough blood supply.

A healthy heart muscle pumps and contracts oxygenated blood to the aorta and then to the rest of the body. People with heart failure have a weak heart muscle. As a result, it cannot contract like before.


Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack

During the onset of a heart attack, people report chest pain that extends to the neck and down to either arm. Some MI can be silent while there are those that may produce warning sign such as shortness of breath, nausea, rapid heart rate, fatigue, severe anxiety, and feelings of indigestion.

After a heart attack happens, the heart is assessed for the extent of the damage. After that, treatment and lifestyle change is encouraged.

Modern Treatment for Heart Attacks

Research and development have been going on for so many years already and there are various options for treatment of heart attack damage or preventing it.


Stem Cell Therapy

When the heart muscle tissue gets damaged due to a heart attack, it becomes less functional. There are procedures and drugs that can be used to relieve the blockage in the arteries that facilitate the blood flow. However, patients can still experience the signs and symptoms of decreasing quality of life.

Stem cell therapy can be a safe option. Patients who undergo a dose of stem call after a heart attack can experience an improved quality of life, reduced chest pains, lesser scar tissues, and improved oxygen consumption.

Adult stem cells can benefit a damaged heart due to myocardial infarction. To restore the function to damaged heart muscle tissues, the growth of new blood vessels are stimulated to promote anti-inflammatory effects, pushing cells toward tissue regeneration and preventing cell death.

Stem cell treatment may be an outpatient procedure done in a lab. Recovery varies from patient to patient. The procedure involves harvesting the adipose tissues and preparing it in a sterile environment, making it ready for injection. A trained cardiologist will administer the stem cells through a catheter.  The stem cells can also be administered intravenously for a more systemic effect.

Potential New Drug

Researchers in the United States and Brazil have developed a new experimental drug called SAMβA. This is short for "selective antagonist of mitofusin 1-β2PKC association."

Researchers gave patients the drug, and this stopped the disease from advancing and also lessened the severity as it helped improve the ability of heart muscles to contract.

Julio C. B. Ferreira, a professor in the Biomedical Science Institute at the University of Sao Paulo, and also the first study author, said that the drugs that were used can halt the progression of the disease but it will not make it regress.


How does SAMβA work?

This blocks an interaction between proteins mitofusin 1 (Mfn1) and beta II protein kinase C (β2PKC). Their association weakens the mitochondria in heart muscle cells, causing cell death.  The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. It has to work properly so that the cells can live.

"We showed that by regulating this specific interaction, we could both halt [the] progression and make the disease regress to a less severe stage," Prof. Ferreira explained.

Shortness of breath, nausea, rapid heart rate are some warning signs of a heart attack/ Photo By Dmytro Zinkevych via 123RF


Hearts that are not so healthy anymore tend to produce more of the protein β2PKC. Prior research on the protein has shown that by blocking it, heart function in people with heart failure is improved. The downside is that it also stopped other proteins that helped the heart from functioning.

A new study was done to show that SAMβA is now more selective, blocking only a specific interaction and leaving others as is.


Heart attack in a dish

Scientists may have found a new drug to treat the damage caused by a heart attack by targeting the way the heart responds to stress. This is based on new research published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, partly funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

The research team grew heart tissues using stem cells and this mimicked a "heart attack in a dish," and they were able to block the chemical signals that can cause heart damage and cell death.

This study was led by Professor Michael Schneider at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London. They first found out about a protein called MAP4K4 that plays a role in the death of heart muscle cells as a reaction to the stress caused by heart attack. The team has managed to develop a drug that can target MAP4K4 to minimize the damage by 60%. Note that this study was done on mice. The team is working on developing drugs that can be given during the first few hours after a heart attack to minimize cell and tissue death.



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