Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death among Americans. So is there anything that we can use to repair your heart after a heart attack?

Fox news reports that researchers have found an unlikely source to help repair your heart. Algae apparently have various qualities that can help re-nourish a person’s heart after a heart attack.

How was the study conducted?

A group of researchers at Stony Brook Medicine’s Heart Institute are part of the Preservation clinical trial. This is a study being done to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of bioabsorable cardiac matrix (BCM) in preventing further heart failure in patients who have suffered a large heart attack with significant damage to the muscle. BCM is a substance that is actually made up of algae.

Stony Brook has a few patients enrolled so far and is one of fifteen centers participating in the international research. Phase 2 of the study began at least two years ago.

“It has 292 patients but needs 14 more. A patient is enrolled after he or she has suffered a massive heart attack. To treat the heart attack, doctors open the blocked coronary artery, take the clot out, insert balloons and stents so the artery is open and blood flow can return to normal. Two to four days later, if the patient qualifies and agrees to participate, he or she is assessed to ensure that the artery is still open, and doctors directly inject the BCM substance into the artery closed at the time of the heart attack,” according to Fox.

What happens to patients post heart attack?

Just after a large heart attack, the damaged scar tissue of the heart bulges out, preventing the organ from functioning. In these cases, blood then shifts outward rather than contracting inward, which can result in heart failure. When the substance is injected and comes into contact with calcium, it forms a matrix then this keeps the heart from remodeling itself.

So how can algae help?

Experts are taking the part with significant damage to the muscle in the heart. They want to see if it helps the patients because those are patients that need the most help. What happens after the injection? The matrix slowly disappears and absorbs into the body in about two to four months. This is the time it takes for the heart to repair.

One of the study’s authors said, “The heart is in a very vulnerable position immediately after a heart attack; it needs some time to repair itself. The idea is that this device helps the heart withstand the pressure created inside the ventricle.”

Researchers analyze patients’ progress afterwards and follow up with them for three years to see how they are doing. Patients are treated aggressively at the beginning to see how successful the treatment will be for the patient.

Why is this research important?

Researchers report that more people are living longer and their ultimate reason for passing on is often heart failure, which can be avoided.

Fox reports, “About 60 percent of patients who have a heart attack will have reduced function of the heart muscle; 40 percent of those will go on and develop heart failure symptoms. Once a person is diagnosed with heart failure, he or she has a high mortality rate— about 25 percent may die in the first year, and 50 percent in five years.”



Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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