Stem Cells



I started my day today reading the front page of CJ. The medical breakthroughs article caught my eye.

http://www.courier-journal.com/section/News01&template=project&theme=research
Why does reading about cardiac stem cell transplant make me remember this photo. I took it for a lecture on “Heart Disease Prevention.”
The stem cell thing is fascinating. The research is compelling and the scientists should be commended. This got me thinking though about heart disease.
As an electrophysiologist, I keep my ‘kids in shoes’ by burning abnormal pathways on the inside of the heart, and also, by implanting pacemakers and defibrillators. Many of these anomalies are accidents of nature completely independent of lifestyle. Pacemaker patients are commonly simply victims of aging. That said, stem cell therapy is yet another in a long line of treatments (along with angioplasty, stents, and coronary bypass) for acquired disease. Heart disease in its most common form may be one of the most preventable tragedies ever.
Really. Most heart disease comes form “clogging of the pipes,” AKA hardening of the arteries, AKA, atherosclerosis.
It’s mostly lifestyle dependent:
Eat too much, eat the wrong foods, don’t exercise, be overweight and the arteries clog. Not today or tomorrow, but eventually.
This cycle also leads to high blood pressure which then beats the pipes even harder.
Then diabetes, which make the arteries irritable and likely to get even more narrow.
Toss in smoking and it is nearly a sure bet that heart disease is just around the bend.
Sound familiar? Ever been to the Kentucky state fair? How about the schools? Here’s a good idea: let’s curtail gym class.
No worries, we have stents, angioplasty, surgery and now magic stem cells to the rescue. Reminds me of the movie Wall-E, where they designed beds that moved and movement was unnecessary.
I had an overweight, sedentary patient ask me to refer him for stem cell injections so he wouldn’t need medicine or exercise. Oh my…
Stay tuned for more on “the plan” to prevent heart disease. See below for stage one…
JMM