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Protection of the Heart at a Distance
11 January 2012
Novel avenues to treat a heart attack: in patients, who have a blood pressure cuff several times briefly inflated before they undergo coronary artery surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass, the heart is protected from damage. This is the result of a clinical study recently reported by a group of scientists from the University Duisburg-Essen (UDE) in Circulation Research, the official journal of the American Heart Association.
A team of researchers from the Institute of Pathophysiology, the Clinic of Cardiothoracic Surgery and the Clinic of Anesthesiology, which was led by Professor Gerd Heusch, found such protection of the heart at a distance. They first identified STAT5 as a protective molecular signal in the human heart. STAT signals improve the function of mitochondria, i.e. the cellular powerplants, and reduce the size of a myocardial infarction in the experiment.
In a myocardial infarction, parts of the cardiac muscle receive no blood supply because the coronary vessels are occluded. Cardiovascular disease is the most frequent cause of death in Germany, and 70.000 people annually die from myocardial infarction in Germany. The basic and translational research of Prof. Heusch on protection of the heart from infarction is supported by the German Research Foundation.