ASK THE CARDIO TEAM
Treating After A Heart Attack
How effective is stem cell therapy after a heart attack?
>> DR. MARC PENN: Multiple studies have shown, particularly in animal models, that stem cells delivered to the heart near the time of a heart attack leads to less damage and improved heart function after the heart attack. Clinical trials in the acute heart attack setting, meaning within a few days of the heart attack, have similarly shown improvement in heart function. And one study called the REPAIR-AMI Trial, which followed the patients for five years after, actually showed improved outcomes. So, there’s clear evidence that the right stem cells at a reasonable time after a heart attack leads to improved outcomes.
>> DR. WARREN SHERMAN: Even though a patient might be feeling relatively well after a heart attack, say three months later. There’s a very good chance, a 30% chance, that they’re going to go on and worsen. So, treating a patient at that time point, maybe even earlier after a heart attack, can help prevent a problem.
What exactly can stem cell therapy do?
>> DR. PENN: We know that heart attacks continue to progress in the myocardium, or the heart tissue, for a few days after the heart attack. The delivery of stem cells leads to decrease of cell death, decrease in what we call the infarct size. We know that there’s better profusion of the heart tissue with stem cells and we know that the cardiac stem cells, which can regenerate the lost tissue, are activated when we deliver stem cells to the heart.
What kind of stem cells are used and what is the treatment?
>> DR. PENN: For patients with a recent heart attack at Okyanos, we harvest their stem cells from the fat, we isolate the stromal vascular fraction using the Tissue Genesis Icellator, and then we do a cardiac catheterization on the right side of the heart meaning all venous, low pressure. We go into what’s called the coronary sinus, which is the main vein of the heart, and we infuse the stem cells there for 10 minutes. We pull our catheter system out and the procedure’s complete.
>> DR. NICOLAS CHRONOS: So this is very different to say bypass surgery or valve replacement, which is a big operation. This is much more akin to angioplasty or catheterization, rather small, a little catheter is put in your groin, run up into the heart and then we inject the cells. It’s not a big procedure; probably the biggest aspect is the liposuction.
How soon after a heart attack can patients get treatment at Okyanos?
>> DR. PENN: We’re willing to treat patients as soon after the heart attack as they’re able to come. So, they need to be medically cleared to take a plane flight to Freeport, Bahamas. Other than that, we would treat patients when they’re able to come.