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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Cardiovascular Health Channel
Reported February 5, 2014

Fixing the Heart with Stem Cells

CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – The most dangerous heart attack is known as a STEMI. It’s when the artery in the heart completely blocks blood flow. Every minute counts when it comes to surviving a STEMI. Now, a patient’s own stem cells could hold the key to recovery.

Branko Koscak is making healthier choices after suffering a massive heart attack. Working 18 hour days had finally caught up with him.

“Just running all day, pretty much day and night,” Branko told Ivanhoe.

Cardiologist Gary Schaer says the damage done by Branko’s nearly 100 percent blocked artery was life-threatening.

“Whole areas of the heart muscle had been severely injured by the heart attack,” Gary L. Schaer, MD, Director of Cardiology Research, Rush University Medical Center, told Ivanhoe.

Dr. Schaer is testing a new technique using a patient’s own stem cells.

“This is the most exciting area of medicine that I’ve been involved in, in my 30 years or so of practice,” Dr. Schaer explained.

A week after Branko’s heart attack, a catheter was placed into his previously blocked artery, and stem cells from his bone marrow were infused.

“It goes all the way through a catheter and comes out to a tip and it’s infused down to the artery, Dr. Schaer said. “It begins the repair process and perhaps could reverse some of the damage that’s already occurred.”

Preliminary evidence shows it takes somewhere between three to six months for maximum benefit.

Branko is taking it day by day.

“I consider myself fortunate that I got a wakeup call,” he said.

It was a call that has already changed his eating habits, his work life, and his heart for the better.

The phase two PreSERVE trial completed enrollment in December. If the trial demonstrates that cell therapy results in benefits compared to placebo, it will more than likely move on to a larger phase three trial.  MORE.

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Click here for additional research on Fixing the Heart with Stem Cells

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview Dr. Gary Schaer

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas,



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