Arteries are vessels, through which oxygen-rich blood travels. If an artery becomes blocked, surrounding organs will become starved of oxygen, nutrients, and potentially damaged. The heart is no different from any other organ; it needs oxygen in order to work. When a coronary arteryTwo arteries arising from the aorta that arch down over the top of the heart and divide into branches. They provide blood to the heart muscle. is blocked, heart muscle struggles to function normally. Coronary artery disease is a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries of the heart, blocking blood flow. As the heart is responsible for pumping blood around the body, problems with the heart can have devastating effects. Heart failure occurs when damage to the heart becomes so extensive, that it cannot adequately fulfill its function as a pump.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) often manifests itself as chest pain. Chronic CAD patients have a deteriorating quality of life including some or all of these issues:
When chest pain occurs as a result of an incomplete blockage of a coronary artery, it is referred to as angina. Angina resolves with rest. If the blockage is complete, a heart attack occurs. The pain of a heart attack does not resolve with rest. Coronary artery disease can also result in shortness of breath, palpitations, nausea, sweating and a loss of consciousness. In the early stages, the disease is managed with medications and lifestyle changes. The aim is to prevent progression of the coronary artery blockages, thus preventing heart attacks and further damage to the heart muscle.
If this approach is unsuccessful, more aggressive interventions can be tried. Angioplasty involves using a balloon to open the coronary artery blockages. Sometimes, a stent will be inserted to hold the vessel open. Coronary artery bypass is a form of open-heart surgery in which the blockage is bypassed. A new vessel is attached to the old, damaged one, connecting the healthy parts of the artery to each other and bypassing the blockage. As a result, blood flow is restored to the heart muscle. For those with severe heart failure, an LVAD (left ventricular assist device) can now be used as an interim measure, before heart transplantation. An LVAD assists the heart in pumping blood around the body.
In the past, exhaustion of these options meant being labeled as a “no option” heart patient. Some patients are too sick to be considered for heart transplantation. Others will not be matched with a donor heart in time. These “no option” patients experience deterioration in their quality of life. Their life expectancy worsens.
Cardiac stem cell therapy has been shown, in a number of clinical trials, to reverse this deterioration in “no option” patients. Stem cells have the ability to become specialized cells and heal injured tissues. Okyanos cardiac stem cell therapy uses adult stem cells, taken from the patient’s own fat tissue. These cells are then placed into the heart via a catheter, where they prompt the growth of new blood vessels. This restores blood flow to the heart and improves heart function leading to improved quality of life.