A new review of previous scientific studies has concluded that stem cell therapy may help reduce the number of deaths in heart patients.
The Cochrane Heart Review Group analyzed data from studies involving just over 1,200 patients in 23 randomized, controlled trials.
The group's report on the potential benefits of stem cell heart repair was published online on April 29 in The Cochrane Library
. The Cochrane Reviews are systematic assessments of evidence-based research into human health care and health policy.
There were fewer deaths among heart patients receiving stem cell therapy in addition to standard treatment, compared to patients who were treated with traditional therapies alone or with a placebo. Stem cells are primitive master cells that, under the right conditions, can turn into any cell in the body.
The therapy also reduced the chances that patients, with improved heart function, had to be readmitted to the hospital.
The review noted that stem cell therapy could possibly reduce the number of deaths after one year, but the results of larger clinical trials are needed.
The stem cells are taken from a patient’s own bone marrow and injected into the hearts of patients with ischemic heart disease and congestive heart failure, repairing damaged cardiac tissue.
Dr. Enca Martin-Rendon, author of the review in Britain, said, “This is encouraging evidence that stem cell therapy has benefits for heart disease patients.” However, Martin-Rendon noted it is difficult to come to any concrete conclusions until larger clinical trials are carried out.