French doctors report preliminary success in transplanting muscle cells into damaged heart muscle
Stem cells could potentially be used to repair tissue damage at many sites in the body. The cells are those which have not yet specialised into a particular form and may adapt to a new function on transplanting. Researchers in Paris say they carried out a transplant of muscle stem cells from the thigh into the heart of a 72 year old man who had had a heart attack.
The first results showed improved function of both the left ventricle and of the heart as a whole. After the man’s death, post-mortem study showed that the stem cells from the thigh had developed into heart muscle cells, with the ability to contract. The study suggests that such transplants can function, sustaining the workload of the heart over time. Much more work is needed, of course, before this kind of cell repair can be offered on a routine basis.
The largest ever study of blood pressure medications shows that diuretics work better than newer, more expensive, drugs.
The Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack (ALLHAT) trial conducted at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and several other locations covers 33,000 people aged 55 or older and at risk of heart disease. All had high blood pressure treated either with a diuretic or a newer drug which could be either a calcium channel blocker or an angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor.
The ALLHAT comparison ran from February 1994 through to March 2002. The diuretic turned out to be the best drug of the three; it gave better blood pressure control, reduced complications like heart failure, and was ten to 20 times less expensive than the other drugs.
The researchers caution that people taking drugs that are not diuretics should not stop them. But you can talk to your doctor about the best drug for you at your next medication review. The ALLHAT study also suggested that best control of high blood pressure is achieved by using more than one drug, for most patients, and that one of these drugs ought to be a diuretic.