Cardiovascular diseases generally comprise conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain or stroke. Other cardiovascular diseases are coronary artery disease, heartbeat rhythm problems and heart and valve defects people are born with. Cardiovascular diseases are the largest cause of mortality in the world, before cancer and infectious diseases. World Health Organisation statistics for 2008 show that close to one in three deaths (29%) in the world is due to cardiovascular diseases, representing more than 17 million lives per year.
Cardiac diseases represent around 60% of cardiovascular diseases and are the single largest cause of death in the cardiovascular disease population. If left untreated, cardiac diseases lead to the heart getting exhausted and becoming unable to pump enough blood flow to meet the body's needs. This condition is called heart failure (HF).
Heart failure (HF) is a very serious condition in which the heart has been damaged and cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's metabolic needs. As it a natural evolution of most cardiac diseases HF is also very common. Cardio3 BioSciences estimates that, out of a world population of 5.2 billion people in the regions traditionally targeted by pharmaceutical and medical device companies, 117 million people are suffering from HF worldwide, and that this number is believed to double by 2020 as the incidence is rising for a variety of reasons including lifestyle factors and the increasing life expectancy of patients. In Europe alone, 3.6 million people are diagnosed annually with HF and out of those patients diagnosed one in three will die within a year of diagnosis . HF patients vary in their symptoms from very mild, through shortness of breath during moderate exercise, and then shortness of breath during light exercise. In the most severe stages, patients are exhausted even at rest.
Today HF cannot be cured or repaired, and most of the current therapies only reduce the severity of symptoms. Drug therapies in particular are aimed at relieving suffering and improving quality of life. While some medical devices (such as pacemakers and heart pumps) have improved the function of a damaged heart, no currently available heart failure treatment has demonstrated an ability to generate new muscle tissue within the scarred regions of a heart. As such, regenerative therapies, that have the goal of rebuilding an organ that has become non-functional, when approved, would offer new hope to patients who otherwise have limited choices.
Acute myocardial infarction (heart attack)
Acute myocardial infarction (AMI or heart attack) happens where impaired blood flow to the heart muscle causes a lack of oxygen supply to the heart. When the oxygen supply is acutely missing through the blockage of an artery the muscle that depends on that artery dies. This is called an acute myocardial infarction. After the initial injury occurs, inflammation follows and finally a scar replaces the healthy contractile tissue. This scar is non-functional in that it does not contract. At first, the rest of the heart beats more vigorously to compensate for this loss of function but over time the patient suffers heart failure (HF) as the heart loses its ability to respond to increased metabolic demand such as during intense exercise. Eventually the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's needs even at rest.
More aggressive treatment of AMI in the initial stages with therapies including clot dissolution agents, angioplasties and stents has led to an increase in patients surviving the initial injury. For patients with severe injury, patients have a much improved survival rate but rapidly progress towards HF.