Preventing a killer
Heart failure accounts for approximately 5,000,000 annual deaths in the United States alone. It is defined simply as the inability of the heart to sufficiently pump blood and can result from many different causes; some intrinsic (genetic or acquired) to the myocardium (the cardiac muscle) and others extrinsic to non-cardiac factors. Regardless of the cause, heart failure is a costly (~$40B/yr) and debilitating disease that affects people of all ages.
WCMB member scientists are actively engaged in developing novel treatments for heart failure. These include gene or stem cell therapeutics for repairing damaged cardiac muscle. In fact, many of these scientists are using similar if not identical technologies to those being developed to treat muscular dystrophies. Scientists are also using novel animal models (see video of Dr. Lynne Nelson) to better understand how the disease develops, how to diagnose it at earlier stages and how to prevent it.
Research performed by WCMB scientists will directly impact how clinicians identify, diagnose and ultimately treat heart failure, whether it develops from hypertension, from a myocardial infarction (a.k.a. heart attack) or from a genetic abnormality. These studies will additionally help to explain how good (as with exercise) and bad (as with disease) types of cardiac hypertrophy develop and how they can be better controlled.