New Hope for Heart Attack Patients with a Beating Heart Patch

Researchers at Imperial College have developed a patch that beats the heart.

A heart attack usually occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to the heart. Without blood, tissue loses oxygen and dies. This can damage the heart’s pumping power and lead to incurable heart failure.
After heart failure, the only treatment option for some patients is a heart transplant, but organ donors are far fewer than those on the waiting list. Over 35,000 heart attacks occur in Canada every year, but only 200 heart transplants are performed. Although there are 2,000 heart transplants performed annually in the US, there are also 805,000 heart attacks.

What are beating heart patches?
Miniature plaster delivers stem cells designed to heal damaged heart tissue. Stem cells are being used by researchers to make tiny patches that will restore function to damaged cardiac tissue.

How its work
1) In this process, cells from the skin, blood, or urine of a patient are transformed into stem cells, which are then converted into heart cells.
2) Those cells are put into a special gel that encourages them to align and form patches of the heart muscle. A mechanical or electrical stimulus is then used to start the beating of these patches.
3) In open heart surgery, scarred tissue would be covered with a patch.

„We hope that one day we will be able to add cardiac patches to the treatments that doctors may routinely offer people after a heart attack.” „For someone with heart failure, we could prescribe one of these patches in addition to medications, which you could take off the shelf and implant directly into a person.”
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