February 22, 2011

Vein Harvesting May No Longer Be Needed in the Future

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 1:07 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

photo from Los Angeles Times news article


According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, researchers have found a way to engineer blood vessels needed for bypass surgery.

Bypass surgery is a complex and intimidating procedure that makes everyone cringe at the thought of having their chest cut open.  What some people may not realize is that smaller procedures are needed prior to bypass.  Other veins or arteries need to be cut out from other parts of the body in order to replace the blocked arteries in the heart.  For patients who require a second bypass or even a third, you start to run out of places to take veins for the heart.  Apparently, as many as 100,000 patients a year are unable to have bypass because they do not have enough suitable veins to put in the heart.

Luckily a new scientific procedure has a found a way to make vessels that are storable and ready-to-go at a moment’s notice. A company called Humacyte, Inc. created the vessels by shaping cadaver smooth muscle cells around a tube and letting the cells create their own collagen network.  After 2 months, a new vessel has formed and they wash away any of the remaining living cells.  What’s left behind is a clean, durable vessel that can be implanted right away or put on the shelf for later use.

Human trials are expected to begin soon using these new artificial vessels.  Animal testing in baboons and dogs have already shown promising results.  Other types of artificial vessels may also be emerging soon but none are close to being available to the public.  It may be another 5 to 10 years but the technology is evolving quickly and bypass patients may have more options soon!

Artificial blood vessels: In the Works – latimes.com.

January 24, 2011

Could Your Cardiologist Help MS Patients in the Future?

Posted in Heart Disease in the News tagged , , , , , , at 2:57 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

Main symptoms of Multiple sclerosis. Sources a...

Image via Wikipedia

A large meeting of physicians held last week discussed a new procedure which could lead to interventional cardiologists helping patients with MS (Multiple Sclerosis).

It may seem like treating MS is completely out of a cardiologists’ realm but some scientists are suggesting there can be a link between the blood vessels and MS.  MS is a chronic disease which involves numbness, weakness and muscle spasms in various parts of the body.  The most afflicted patients have tremors and are unable to walk or speak.  Most medical websites state the disease is caused by problems with the immune system and it is best treated with drugs.  Apparently some physicians are working on a non-pharmacologic method now.

At the International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy in Miami last week, physicians discussed a new procedure in which the veins in the neck and around the spine are opened up more with balloon angioplasty (similar to the procedure done in the heart arteries for blockages).  This vein angioplasty has been experimented on patients with MS and some of those patients saw improvement in their symptoms.  More trials are underway to look for benefits in more MS patients.

The procedure itself brought up quite a bit of controversy at the meeting.  While the MS community is hopeful for a promising new procedure such as this, the physicians themselves appear to be less enthusiastic about performing the vein angioplasty until studies show conclusive evidence of it’s benefit.