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heart failure, cardiac research, cardiac surgery, stem cell



  1. Shepler, Sherrill A. MSN, ACNP, BC, CCRN
  2. Patel, Amit N. MD, MS


Cardiomyopathy is a common clinical disorder affecting the heart muscle. This disease process frequently leads to congestive heart failure and will often progress to end-stage heart failure. Present standard of care treatment options for cardiomyopathy include medical management, lifestyle changes, and surgical procedures including left ventricular assist devices as a destiny therapy or bridging to heart transplantation. Even despite advances in drug therapy, mechanical assist devices, and organ transplantation, more than half of the persons with cardiomyopathy will die within 5 years of diagnosis. Small uncontrolled clinical trials have demonstrated cardiac stem cells as a treatment option for cardiomyopathy. The theory for the individual or combined mechanism of action for stem cells includes (1) transdifferentiation to blood vessels or myocardium, (2) fusion with the native dysfunctional myocytes to augment function, and (3) homing that may be a systemic or panacrine response for recruiting other cells, and growth factors to help improve oxygen delivery and myocardial function. The field of cardiac cell therapy is rapidly progressing to gather more data with intermediate-size, double-blinded trials that will demonstrate the safety and efficacy of cell therapy.