According to recent clinical trials, conducted at the University of Utah in the United States, end-stage heart failure patients treated with stem cells harvested from their own bone marrow had 37 percent fewer cardiac events than those who received a ‘dummy’ placebo.
While findings from the trials are promising, further long-term data on improved levels of heart efficiency and performance would still need to be seen before the procedure becomes a recommended intervention in heart cases.
In heart failure, a weakened or damaged heart no longer pumps blood the way it should. The new study involved 126 heart failure patients. Sixty received the stem cell treatment, while the other 66 got a placebo.
After one year, 4 percent of the stem cell therapy patients had died and about 52 percent had been hospitalized for heart failure. That wasan improvement on the group receiving the placebo, where 8 percent of patients died and more than 82 percent ended up in the hospital.
If further studies are successful, stem cell therapy may one day offer an alternative to current treatments for end-stage heart failure, such as heart transplantation and left ventricular assist device therapy, the researchers said.
In what is potentially good news for heart failure patients, a 10-year found also found that bypass surgery plus medication appears to work better for heart failure patients, compared to the use of only medications.
In the study, all of the patients got standard heart drugs, but those who also underwent coronary bypass lived a median of 16 months longer. They also suffered fewer heart attacks, strokes and hospitalizations, the study found.