Repairing Hearts With Stem Cells

This year, 785,000 people in the U.S. will have their first heart attack. Nearly half a million more will suffer *another one. Heart attacks can do serious damage to the heart and affect everything from its size to its ability to function. But as Robyn Haines reports in Healthy Living, researchers now believe our own bodies could hold the key to repairing that damage. 63-year-old Robert Boyce was an avid fisherman before he had three heart attacks in just two years — severely damaging his heart. Boyce and seven other men were part of a study conducted by Doctor Joshua Hare and his team at the University Of Miami Miller School Of Medicine, testing the heart-healing power of stem cells. In a non-invasive catheterization procedure, researchers injected stem cells from patients' own bone marrow directly into damaged areas in their hearts. The preliminary results: stem cells significantly reduced the size of enlarged hearts, dramatically improved function in injured areas and reduced scar tissue. Researchers say it's too soon to know whether fixing a damaged heart with stem cells gives Robert or any patient a longer life or better quality of life. Larger, long-term studies may help answer that question.