Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack, MI)

A myocardial infarct, also called a heart attack or MI, is a life-threatening emergency and occurs when the blood supply to the heart is suddenly blocked. “Myo” means muscle, “cardial” means relating to the heart, and “infarct” is a small localized area of dead tissue resulting from failure of blood supply. The Stem Cells Transplant Institute offers a safe, non-surgical treatment for the repair of ischemic damage that occurs from a heart attack.

The Stem Cells Transplant Institute in Costa Rica, uses adult autologous stem cells to help treat patients following a heart attack.

What causes a myocardial infarct (heart attack)?

Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of heart attacks.  Coronary artery disease is the buildup of plaque, causing a narrowing or blocking the blood vessels in the coronary arteries. 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.

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.

Although rare, other causes of myocardial infarction include:

  • Injury caused by direct impact to heart
  • A spasm of the coronary artery
  • Surgery
  • Drug abuse

Symptoms of a heart attack:

  • Chest pain that can radiate to the jaw, neck, arms and back.
  • The chest may feel like it is being pressed or squeezed by a heavy object.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling weak
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling of indigestion
  • Sweating

It takes about 6-8 weeks for the heart to heal the damage area.  A scar will form where the damage occurred and that area will no longer contract, reducing the heart’s ability to pump.  How severely the heart is permanently damaged depends on the location and size of the scar.

Can stem cell therapy repair the damage caused by a heart attack?

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 following a heart attack 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)1-3

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

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, 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 reduce the risk of a second heart attack:

  • 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 patients that have suffered from a myocardial infarction.  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 following a heart. Treatment at the Stem Cells Transplant Institute may improve the symptoms and long-term complications caused by a myocardial infarction.

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 to treat the damage caused by a heart attack. 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.



1.Sun R.Advances in stem cell therapy for cardiovascular disease (Review). National Journal of Mol. Med. 38: 23-29, 2016. 2 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. 3 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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