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Heart patients get stem cell jabs

A revolutionary trial is set to inject heart attack victims with stem cells from their own bone marrow in a bid to save thousands of lives every year.

Doctors hope the jabs will repair the cell scarring that is caused during severe cardiac arrests, and allow patients to enjoy better lives.

Heart attacks are responsible for one in four deaths of men, and one in six deaths of women in Britain - one of the worst rates in the world.

Current techniques, such as coronary bypass surgery, or angioplasty, can improve blood flow around the heart, reducing the risk of further attacks.

But these techniques cannot repair the scarred tissue back to its original condition.

Now a team from Bristol Heart Institute (BHI) will undertake a groundbreaking trial that hopes to use a patient's stem cells to repair the scarring.

Using a person's own stem cells ensures no risk of rejection or infection, and gets around ethical questions about using fetal tissue.

Up to 60 recent heart attack sufferers are set to volunteer for the technique from August, although some will be given a placebo.

Dr Raimondo Ascione, the consultant cardiac surgeon leading the team, said: "Around one in five heart attack victims will go on to develop heart failure.

"A number of these will die within two or three years, and those remaining will have a very poor quality of life.

"If this trial is successful it could be a major breakthrough with major clinical implications. It could allow heart attack patients to have a good quality of life."

Bristol Heart Institute

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