Is Stem Cell Research Developing a Treatment for Cardiac Arrhythmia?

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Cardiac arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat, is a disease that can lead to a variety of heart problems. iStock_000003733705SmallOver a long period of time, it can even cause damage to the tissue in the heart itself. Past treatments for irregular heartbeats have been expensive and ineffective, but new research shows that stem cells may be a possible future treatment to create a heart that can actually heal itself.

Self-Healing Hearts

Our hearts regulate themselves by a complex network of electrical impulses that tell it when to contract. When these impulses are disturbed by other diseases, drug use or even genetics, the rhythmic beating of our hearts is thrown off.

In the past, devices like pacemakers have been used to treat arrhythmia by creating a steady “beating” rhythm for the heart to follow. However, these devices can malfunction and aren’t good treatments for everyone. This creates a need for a natural treatment option that relies on the heart’s own tissue to heal itself.

Stem cell research has been contributing to this goal. Scientists have found that a special type of cell can be implanted to help the patient’s own heart create the tissue needed for conduction. This would mean that people with arrhythmia wouldn’t have to rely on a pacemaker for a rhythmic heartbeat, instead allowing the heart to self-regulate.

While the research is still new, the idea that arrhythmias may be treated with completely natural means is a big breakthrough for the scientific community. However, stem cell research for heart health is still a new field. The link between stem cells and arrhythmias will need more research before actual treatments can be made to improve heart health.