Mending a Broken Heart

Good News for Heart Patients

Scientists have now developed a “sticking plaster” composed of a whole slew of healthy heart cells to “heal damaged hearts.” The hope is that it will be able to “shore up areas damaged by heart attacks, cutting the odds of further ill health.” If successful it will significantly improve the quality of life for heart attack patients – more than 100,000 in Britain alone per year. As well, it aims to work as a preventive measure against heart failure in which the heart really has to fight hard to be able to pump blood around the body. Indeed, over 750,000 people in the UK are currently living with heart failure, making day-to-day life extremely difficult as they struggle to catch their breath. Today on offer for heart-failure patients, is just drugs or transplants. Even then around 40 percent will pass away within a year of being diagnosed, giving this predicament an even “worse survival rate than many cancers.”

Heart Patch

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So how is the patch made? First of all, it’s extremely non-invasive, being no thicker than an average strand of human hair, and looking like a “black sticking plaster.” First, researchers created a “scaffold of extra-thin carbon fibers.” In a dish, nerve and cells “crawled” onto the healthy heart muscle that had also been placed there in an attempt to repair the heart damage. So what does that mean? What happens is, is that the combination is capable of bringing those parts of the heart that have rendered dead from a heart attack, “back to life.” Lead author of the Acta Biomaterialia, David Stout said, “this whole idea is to put something where dead tissue is to help regenerate it, so that eventually you have a healthy heart.” It’s genius when you think about it. Other materials have been tried, but haven’t been as successful. It seems that the carbon fibers got good results since they “conduct electricity well.”

Time Will Tell

The research for sure has been going well, but the patch isn’t going to be available at your pharmacy just yet. Apparently it will probably be a further 10 to 15 years before that will be the case. But, when it does happen – and it’s looking likely – researchers have said that mending a broken heart will take the same amount of time and effort as repairing a broken leg!