Can You “Grow” a New, Healthy Heart?

January 11, 2012
76 Views

We talk a lot about cancer on Patient Power. There’s plenty to talk about. But millions more people have a totally different health problem – they have a sick heart. Beyond helping a damaged heart muscle pump as well as it can, even at a diminished level, what if the cells of the beating heart could be repaired? What if healthy tissue could be regrown either in a lab or in a patient’s body so that the squeezing ability of the heart could get back to 100 percent? It sounds like science fiction, right? Maybe not.

We talk a lot about cancer on Patient Power. There’s plenty to talk about. But millions more people have a totally different health problem – they have a sick heart. Beyond helping a damaged heart muscle pump as well as it can, even at a diminished level, what if the cells of the beating heart could be repaired? What if healthy tissue could be regrown either in a lab or in a patient’s body so that the squeezing ability of the heart could get back to 100 percent? It sounds like science fiction, right? Maybe not.

Dr. Chuck Murry

Dr. Chuck Murry, University of Washington

I love talking to doctors in clinical practice. They are in the trenches with us patients. But behind the scenes are research scientists. You may never meet one. But I am increasingly interviewing them to give you a look at what could be the next big medical breakthroughs. And one that will “pop” someday is the ability to help heart attack victims not suffer from congestive heart failure – a heart that cannot pump efficiently – but rather have treatment to give them a healthy heart once again. Dr. Chuck Murry at the University of Washington in Seattle is on the forefront of this research with stem cells. For years he has been devoted to growing new heart cells that can beat, or squeeze, as muscle cells should. This is part of the exciting field of regenerative medicine.

Since you or a loved one likely will have heart problems at some point I urge you to watch my new video interview with Dr. Murry and tell others about it. What he and his team are doing is really cool science that could save or restore millions of lives.

Not long ago, as I celebrated a decade as a cancer survivor, my oncologist began a discussion about my heart health. At first, it struck me as odd. Shouldn’t we be talking about cancer? But, as he explained, with so many of us living longer – cancer patients included – it is heart disease we should worry about too. With age can come blocked arteries, heart attack and either death or disability from a damaged heart. Of course preventing clogged arteries would be best. But if Chuck Murry’s stem cell research pays off, repairing the heart muscle would be a wonderful safety net.

Just as we wished our astronauts good luck on their exploration of space, I wish scientists like Dr. Murry all the best for early breakthroughs. It could make a huge difference for all of us.

Wishing you the best of health,

Andrew

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