The Future of Heart Disease Therapy

The greatest opportunity to reduce the devastating effects of heart disease is to change behavior-to choose healthy diets, build exercise into our lives, and eliminate smoking. The greatest challenge to healthcare in the coming decade is the twin epidemic of diabetes and obesity which brings increased risk for of heart disease to millions in both developed and developing nations.

More than 560 agents are now in clinical research to test their usefulness in treating cardiovascular diseases and high cholesterol.  Two new approaches focus on enzymes (Lp-PLA2 and PCSK9) involved in the way the body uses the "bad" form of cholesterol (LDL).  Drugs that use strategies based on these enzymes, including one called Darapladib, are in clinical trials. Studies are also testing ways to increase levels of "good" cholesterol (HDL).  

Other promising agents use strategies to prevent blood clots that can cause heart attacks. Several experimental drugs work by interfering with Factor Xa, one of the building blocks of blood clots. These include Apixaban and Edoxaban.

Medical devices, like implantable cardioverter difibrillators (ICDs) that shock the heart back into normal rhythm, are making important advances. A promising device is now being studied in patients who suffer from atrial fibrillation (AF). Made of self-expanding metal covered with a thin polyester material, the device is sewn into the heart to help prevent strokes.  

Stem cell therapy is beginning to offer ways to repair heart tissue damaged by heart attacks and by chronic diseases that prevent the heart from getting sufficient blood supply. Researchers are working toward using stem cells to replace damaged heart cells and to restore cardiac function.  

References:
Cowen and Company, Therapeutic Categories Outlook 2012
AHA Lists Year's Big Advances in CV Research American Heart Association, Medpage Today, Dec 18, 2012 
Cleveland Clinic 2012, Stem Cell Therapy for Heart Disease

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"Diabetes" or "Asthma", for example.