Stem Cells Offer Hope For Untreatable Chest Pain

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation is playing a key role in the nation’s largest adult stem cell study for heart disease. Initial results presented at the American College of Cardiology last week show that giving a specific form of their own stem cells to patients with severe chest pain results in less chest pain and improves their ability to exercise.

"It’s the first evidence that a patient's own stem cells could actually be an excellent therapy for patients with severe blockages who are not good candidates for future bypass or stenting," said Dr. Tim Henry, research director for the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation.


"These patients are severely limited in their activity. There were significant improvements in their chest pain and ability to exercise. Now, they can walk to their mail boxes or play with their grandchildren," Henry said.

Henry says this is the first time any therapy has improved exercise time for patients with such severe activity limitations. Compared to the placebo group, patients who received their own stem cells were able to walk an average of 70 seconds longer on a treadmill.

It took longer until they experienced angina or chest pain. And, when they felt pain, it went away faster with rest. And, they had fewer episodes of pain.

Of the study’s 167 patients, 32 are associated with the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. All of the study patients are on maximum medical therapy and not suitable candidates for conventional procedures to improve blood flow to the heart, such as angioplasty or bypass surgery.