Stem cell therapy could halve deaths from heart failure

4 April 2016        

Category: BHF Comment

Lab test

A study from the University Of Utah suggests that heart failure patients treated with stem cell therapy have fewer cardiac events. 

The findings, which were presented at the 2016 American College of Cardiology Conference, suggest that end-stage heart failure patients treated with stem cells harvested from their own bone marrow experienced 37% fewer cardiac events, including death and admissions to hospital. 

Limited treatments for heart failure

Professor Jeremy Pearson, our Associate Medical Director, comments:  “There are over half a million people in the UK, and millions around the world living with debilitating heart failure. Treatments are limited and the only ‘cure’ is a heart transplant. Regenerative treatments that repair the damage caused by a heart attack, which often leads to heart failure, are urgently needed. The BHF has driven a major boost in UK regenerative medicine research to find those treatments through our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal.

“Over the last decade there has been a series of trials involving injecting a patient’s own bone marrow-derived cells to help repair the failing heart.  Most studies have been small and overall shown the procedure is safe but the clinical benefit, if any, has been marginal.

“These researchers used a new mixture of stem cells and found that, although fewer people died and were admitted to hospital, the therapy didn’t improve their overall heart function, which is crucial to showing the treatment works. Bone marrow stem cell therapy appears to be safe but using it to improve heart function and the quality of life for patients depends on further research.”

Living with heart failure

Having heart failure means that for some reason your heart is not pumping blood around the body as well as it used to. The most common reason for this is that your heart muscle has been damaged, for example after a heart attack.

Living with severe heart failure is a constant fight for life. Every year, thousands more families have to watch the people they love struggle with this devastating condition.

Over the past 50 years BHF research has made breakthroughs in heart failure medicines like ACE inhibitors, but there is still more that needs to be done. 

Mending Broken Hearts

The Mending Broken Hearts Appeal is our most ambitious programme yet. Our fundraising appeal will pay for research into cardiovascular regenerative medicine.
This field of medicine aims to try and repair the damage caused by a heart attack.