Cardiovascular disease, also called heart disease, is a broad medical term used to describe a group of conditions that affect the blood vessels or the heart.  It is the most common cause of death worldwide.1

Conditions of cardiovascular disease include:

  • coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • valvular heart disease
  • cardiomyopathy
  • congenital heart disease
  • myocardial infarction (heart attack, MI)
  • ischemic stroke
  • heart failure
  • hypertensive heart disease
  • heart arrhythmia
  • carditis
  • aortic aneurysms
  • peripheral artery disease (PAD)
  • thromboembolic disease
  • venous thrombosis

The Stem Cells Transplant Institute in Costa Rica, uses adult autologous stem cells for the treatment of cardiovascular disease (heart disease). The symptoms of cardiovascular disease will depend on the specific type of heart disease.

Treatment at the Stem Cells Transplant Institute could help improve the symptoms of cardiovascular disease such as:

  • Chest pain also called angina
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Irregular heartbeat; racing or slow heartbeat (tachycardia, bradycardia)
  • Fluttering in your chest
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Edema or swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet
  • Fatigue
  • Dry or persistent cough

What is cardiovascular disease?

Heart disease and cardiovascular disease are often used interchangeably.  These terms refer to a group of conditions that affect the blood vessels and heart. Valvular heart disease affects how the valves pump blood flow in and out of the heart. Cardiomyopathy affects the contractions of the heart muscle. Heart arrhythmias are disturbances in the electrical conduction making the heart beat irregular. Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease and stem cell therapy may be an effective treatment.

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

Coronary artery disease is caused by atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque, causing a narrowing or blocking the blood vessels in the coronary arteries. Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease. Atherosclerosis can lead to chest pain, heart attack or stroke.

Coronary arteries carry oxygen rich blood to the heart. Plaque is caused by the presence of cholesterol, calcium, fat, and other substances in the blood. When plaque builds up in the blood vessels it narrows the arteries causing them to harden and weaken, reducing the amount of oxygen rich blood to the heart. As a result, the heart cannot pump blood effectively to the rest of the body potentially leading to heart failure and ultimately death.

Myocardial infarction (heart attack)

If the plaque building up in the coronary arteries breaks, a blood clot forms around the plaque. If the clot cuts off the blood flow to the heart muscle completely, the heart muscle is unable to get the necessary oxygen and nutrients causing a part of the heart muscle to die.  The result is a heart attack or myocardial infarction,

Heart Failure

Coronary artery disease, high blood pressure or a previous heart attack can lead to the onset of heart failure.  Heart failure is a chronic, progressive disease typically caused by another heart condition resulting in the heart muscle losing its ability to supply the rest of body with enough blood and oxygen.

 Peripheral Artery Disease

Atherosclerosis can also cause peripheral artery disease.  Peripheral arterial disease occurs when the narrowed peripheral arteries cannot send enough blood flow to the extremities, usually the legs. The most common symptoms of peripheral artery disease are; cramping, pain, and/or tiredness in the leg or hip muscles during exertion. The most severe symptom of peripheral artery disease is critical limb ischemia, pain at rest due to reduced blood flow to the limb.

Ischemic stroke

Approximately 85% of strokes are ischemic strokes. Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of ischemic stroke. If the arteries become too narrow due to plaque buildup, the blood cells may collect and form a clot.  A larger clot can block the artery where it is formed (thrombotic stroke) while a smaller clot may travel until it reaches an artery closer to the brain (embolic stroke).  When the arteries to your brain become narrow or blocked, the required blood flow is reduced resulting in stroke. Other causes of ischemic stroke are clots due to an irregular heartbeat or heart attack.

Stem cell therapy at the Stem Cells Transplant Institute may be a good alternative for patients seeking a safe, non-surgical treatment for cardiovascular disease.

Can stem cell therapy improve symptoms of cardiovascular disease?

 “Notably, adult stem and progenitor cells including….mesenchymal stem cells have progressed into clinical trials and have shown positive benefits.”5

 

Stem cell transplantation uses healthy cells to promote the repair of damaged cells and regeneration of healthy and functional cells to repair injured tissue.1 The therapeutic effect of stem cell transplantation in patients with cardiovascular disease may be due to the paracrine effect. The theory is transplanted stem cells repair damaged tissue by releasing factors that promote regeneration of healthy stem cells, reduce inflammation, promote the growth of new blood vessels, inhibit cell death, and reduce hypertrophy.1

 The results of initial research using mesenchymal stem cell transplantation:

 Myocardial Infarction (Heart attack, MI)1,5,8

  • Improved left ventricular function
  • Improved myocardial perfusion
  • Improved quality of life

Heart Failure

  • Improved ventricular remodeling
  • Improved functional capacity
  • Improved quality of life

Ischemic stroke1

  • Improved cardiac function

 Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)5-7

  • Improved limb function
  • Reduced autoamputation
  • Reduce muscle atrophy
  • Reduce the thickening or scarring of connective tissue

 Adipose derived stem cells improve left ventricular function, promote angiogenesis, lower fibrosis, and decrease inflammation. Several months following treatment, stem cells continue to migrate to the heart muscle regenerating and renewing healthy heart function.  Stem cell therapy cannot help all patients with cardiovascular disease but for many patients stem cell therapy combined with lifestyle modification may be a safe, effective, non-surgical alternative treatment.

Lifestyle changes that can help improve cardiovascular disease include:

  • Quit smoking
  • Following a healthy diet low in salt and saturated fat
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Daily exercise
  • Control high blood pressure
  • Control diabetes
  • Control high cholesterol
  • Practice good hygiene

What type of stem cells are used?

The Stem Cells Transplant Institute uses autologous mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.  Autologous means the stem cells are collected from the recipient so the risk of rejection is virtually eliminated. Mesenchymal stem cells are one type of adult stem cells that are found in a variety of tissues including; adipose tissue, lung, bone marrow, and blood.  Mesenchymal stem cells have several advantages over other types of stem cells; ability to migrate to sites of tissue injury, strong immunosuppressive effect, and better safety after infusion.2,3 Mesenchymal stem cells are a promising treatment for cardiovascular disease. Treatment at the Stem Cells Transplant Institute may improve the symptoms and long-term complications of cardiovascular disease.

How are the stem cells collected?

A team of stem cell experts developed an FDA approved method and protocol for harvesting and isolating adipose derived stem cells for autologous reimplantation. The collection and use of adult stem cells does not require the destruction of embryos and for this reason, more U.S. federal funding is being spent on stem cell research.

How are the stem cells administered?

The stem cells are administered intravenously.

About the Stem Cells Transplant Institute

Costa Rica has one of the best healthcare systems in world and is ranked among the highest for medical tourism. Using the most advanced technologies, the team of experts at The Stem Cells Transplant Institute believes in the potential of stem cell therapy for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. We are committed to providing personalized service and the highest quality of care to every patient. Contact us to see if stem cell therapy may be a treatment option for you.

 

References:

1.Sun R.Advances in stem cell therapy for cardiovascular disease (Review). National Journal of Mol. Med. 38: 23-29, 2016. 2 Hare JM, Fishman JE, Gerstenblith G, DiFede Velazquez DL, Zambrano JP, Suncion VY, Tracy M, Ghersin E, Johnston PV, Brinker JA, et al: Comparison of allogeneic vs autologous bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells delivered by transendo­cardial injection in patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy: the POSEIDON randomized trial. JAMA 308: 2369-2379, 2012.3 Miyahara Y, Nagaya N, Kataoka M, Yanagawa B, Tanaka K, Hao H, Ishino K, Ishida H, Shimizu T, Kangawa K, et al: Monolayered mesenchymal stem cells repair scarred myocardium after myocardial infarction. Nat Med 12: 459-465, 2006. 4 Mazo M, Planat-Bénard V, Abizanda G, Pelacho B, Léobon B, Gavira JJ, Peñuelas I, Cemborain A, Pénicaud L, Laharrague P, et al: Transplantation of adipose derived stromal cells is asso­ciated with functional improvement in a rat model of chronic myocardial infarction. Eur J Heart Fail 10: 454-462, 2008. 5 Stem cell-based therapies to promote angiogenesis in ischemic cardiovascular disease Luqia Hou,1,2 Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 310: H455–H465, 2016. 6 Kinnaird T, Stabile E, Burnett MS, Lee CW, Barr S, Fuchs S, Epstein SE. Marrow-derived stromal cells express genes encoding a broad spectrum of arteriogenic cytokines and promote in vitro and in vivo arteriogenesis through paracrine mechanisms. Circ Res 94: 678–685, 2004. 7 Kinnaird T, Stabile E, Burnett MS, Shou M, Lee CW, Barr S, Fuchs S, Epstein SE. Local delivery of marrow-derived stromal cells augments collateral perfusion through paracrine mechanisms. Circulation 109: 1543–1549, 2004.

8 Hare JM, Fishman JE, Gerstenblith G, DiFede Velazquez DL, Zambrano JP, Suncion VY, Tracy M, Ghersin E, Johnston PV, Brinker JA, Breton E, Davis-Sproul J, Schulman IH, Byrnes J, Mendizabal AM, Lowery MH, Rouy D, Altman P, Wong Po Foo C,  Ruiz P, Amador A, Da Silva J, McNiece IK, Heldman AW, George R, Lardo A. Comparison of allogeneic vs autologous bone marrowderived  mesenchymal stem cells delivered by transendocardial injection in patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy: the POSEIDON randomized trial. JAMA 308: 2369–2379, 2012.

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