In theory, there is no limit to the types of health conditions and diseases that stem cell therapy can cure. Stem cell therapy, also known as “regenerative medicine”, has the potential to transform medicine by increasing our understanding of how diseases develop, offering new ways for researchers to test and evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new drugs.
Stem cell therapy offers the potential for exciting new health advancements, especially with heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US. Current research into stem cell therapy and how it can help people with heart disease is promising, but treatments have yet to be proven safe or effective.
So, where does the current research into stem cell therapy effectiveness lie? And what does the future hold for cardiac regenerative medicine? Have a look below to learn more.
Current state of stem cell research
Although the majority of evidence shows that clinical benefits resulting from stem cell therapy treatment is miniscule and inconsistent, some recent studies conducted over the last several years have shown promising results, signaling hope in the ongoing battle against heart disease.
A 2016 study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 65th Annual Scientific Session showed stem cell therapy was able to significantly improve long-term health outcomes in patients with advanced or end-stage heart disease. In the 12-month study, 109 patients were randomized to be given either the cell therapy or a placebo.
Those who were given the cell therapy showed a 37 percent lower rate of deaths, cardiovascular hospitalizations, and clinic visits for sudden worsening of heart failure symptoms compared to patients given the placebo. The cell therapy consisted of researchers taking stem cells from a person’s own bone marrow, modifying it, and then injecting it back into the same patient’s heart muscle.
Although current research shows some positive outcomes, other recent studies have shown less than promising results. This indicates a need for caution and more research into the effects of stem cell therapy on people with heart disease.
A 2017 study published in the journal Circulation found that stem cell therapy treatment could be more harmful than helpful if a patient’s own cardiac stem cells are used to treat their diseased heart. Researchers found that using a patient’s own cardiac stem cells to repair damaged heart tissue may not only result in limited effectiveness, but also an increased risk for developing inflammatory agents, resulting in additional heart damage.
Stem cell therapy treatments for heart failure
Stem cell therapy for heart disease patients is conducted in a few different ways. Most commonly, stem cell therapy clinics will use stem cells taken from bone marrow, and then insert them into the heart using a catheter. Once inserted, modified stem cells help to repair damaged heart tissue.
These cell therapies, often offered by treatment centers like NAD Stem Cell Therapy, involve minimally invasive outpatient treatments that have little to no downtime. In general, most stem cell therapies for heart disease patients have been shown to be relatively safe. But there is the risk that treatments can fail or cause side effects like dangerous heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
What to expect in the coming years
Research into cardiac regenerative medicine is quickly evolving and advancing. But experts warn that challenges remain as significant benefits have yet to be recorded in human trails.
Researchers are hopeful though that one day stem cell therapy could be used to treat rare and relatively unknown heart conditions like myocarditis. And more myocarditis awareness is certainly needed, just like with any other type of heart disease.