Lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking and drinking too much alcohol are the main causes of heart disease but it is also known that there are strong hereditary factors too.
Coronary heart disease occurs when fatty plaques build up in the blood vessels feeding the heart and over time become narrowed. Parts of the plaque, known as atheroma, may break off causing a clot to form which can block the artery causing a heart attack.
Working with Prof Prediman Shah, from Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, the team were able to formulate a vaccine that reduced plaque build up by 60 to 70 per cent in mice.
The resulting CVX-210 vaccine, currently in development as an injection by CardioVax, is waiting regulatory clearance to start clinical trials.
Other work that could be big progress against heart disease - detection and repair
Doctors are one step closer to a simple test that could predict whether a patient is about to have a heart attack — by using a blood sample to detect cells that have sloughed off of damaged blood vessel walls.
Ruptures resulting from mild cholesterol buildups can lead to particularly deadly heart attacks, said Dr. Douglas Zipes, a cardiologist at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, because patients with such blockages are often asymptomatic, and — unlike people with larger blockages — are unlikely to have developed new blood vessels that can help bypass the obstruction.
Knowing that the endothelial lining has been damaged before a blood clot grows might allow physicians to predict onset of a heart attack or stroke, said Zipes, who was not involved in the study.
It could become possible to develop a wearable device for constantly monitoring the blood for endoteliel cells that indicate earlier damage of blood vessels.
Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and The Johns Hopkins University harvested stem cells from the hearts of 17 heart attack patients and after prepping the cells, infused them back into the patients' hearts.
Researchers found that six months after treatment, patients had significantly less scarring of the heart muscle and also showed a considerable increase the amount of healthy heart muscle, compared to eight post-heart attack patients studied who did not receive the stem cell infusions. One year after, scar size was reduced by about 50 percent.
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