What is Myocardial Infarction (MI)?
Myocardial infarction- a heart attack is a very dangerous condition. It occurs when one or more areas of heart muscle do not get enough oxygen. With no blood flow, heart muscle begin to die. So, if blood flow is not reestablished rapidly, it can cause permanent heart damage or even death.
Majority of heart attack occur because of the blockage in the blood vessel that that supply oxygen to your heart. This blockage usually happen due to buildup of plaque (cholesterol, white blood cells, and other substances) in the arteries. Hence, leading to atherosclerosis. Breaking of a plaque forms a blood clot. So basically this clot is the main cause of MI. Sometimes, plaque deposits inside the coronary artery rupture causing a blood clot to block the site. Consequently, this blockage deprive heart muscle of blood leading to a heart attack.
Only about 5% of the heart attacks occur without blockage for the following reasons:
- Eating disorder
- Spasm of artery
- Rare medical condition
- Electrolyte imbalance (low or high minerals in blood)
Common symptoms are:
- Pressure/pain in Chest, spreading to shoulder, neck, arms or jaw
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid or irregular pulse
- Weakness or fatigue
Who is at risk for myocardial infarction?
There are certain factors that may increase your risk of having a heart attack, including:
- High Blood Pressure:
The normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg or below. As this number increase so is the risk of having a heart attack. High blood pressure damages the arteries and speed up plaque buildup.
- High Triglyceride levels:
Triglycerides (type of fat) clog the arteries. Triglyceride from the food, travels through blood and are stored in your body. However, some may remain in arteries and can cause buildup of plaque.
Having high blood sugar level can damage the blood vessels. Hence, leading to coronary heart disease.
How stem cell therapy helps
Primary angioplasty, optimal medical therapy and secondary prevention measures have helped to improve the long-term prognosis of patients with MI. However, the most accepted method for heart repair is delivery of exogenous cells. Any cell type such as skeletal myoblast to pluripotent stem cells and derivatives has been transplanted into damaged myocardium. Using stem cells (have the ability to grow in various types of heart cells) could possible repair and regenerate the injured tissue.
According to Dr. Richard Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a leading expert on stem cell therapy, “The field is young. Some studies show only modest or no improvement in heart function, but others have shown dramatically improved function,” he says. “We’re waiting to see if other doctors can also achieve really good results in other patients.”
Like any other therapy, injecting stem cells into the heart can fail or may even cause a side effect. Also, if the stem cells are taken from an unrelated donor, immune system may reject them. Therefore, long term trials are required to analyze the role of stem cell therapy in treating heart disease.