Heart failure: when blood damages the heart

Heart failure: when blood damages the heart

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Connection between altered blood stem cells and cardiac insufficiency revealed

In Germany, almost two million patients suffer from chronic heart failure called heart failure. Researchers have now gained new insights, based on which new possibilities for prevention could arise.

The most common diagnosis for inpatient hospital treatment

Almost two million people in Germany suffer from chronic heart failure called heart failure. As a result of this disease, the heart is no longer able to provide the body with sufficient blood and oxygen. Chronic heart failure occurs primarily after a heart attack or persistent hypertension and is currently the most common diagnosis for inpatient hospital treatment, reports the University Hospital Frankfurt in a message. Scientists at the clinic have now gained new insights, based on which new prevention options could arise.

New findings could help prevent the disease

A weak heart leads to shortness of breath, a decrease in performance, fatigue and water retention in the legs.

This massively limits the quality of life for many of those affected. In addition, this heart disease is often accompanied by psychological problems.

In recent years, new approaches to treating heart failure have been reported.

And now German researchers have gained new knowledge that could help prevent the disease.

According to their own statements, the scientists at the Frankfurt University Hospital have for the first time proven that there is a connection between genetically modified blood stem cells and the occurrence of heart failure after a heart attack.

The results of the study were recently published in the specialist journal "JAMA Cardiology".

Genetically modified blood stem cells

As stated in the release, individual blood stem cells produce more blood cells than unmodified stem cells through genetic changes.

"The fact that thousands of blood stem cells in the bone marrow contribute evenly to the fact that new cells are formed in the blood every day," explains Prof. Michael Rieger, head of stem cell biology at the Medical Clinic II at the University Hospital Frankfurt.

"It was only recently possible to use state-of-the-art analysis methods to show that older stem cells can dominate blood formation due to gene changes."

In such a case, one speaks of clonal blood formation. Every tenth over the age of 70 is affected.

“Clonal blood formation is not a pathological change in the blood system, such as blood cancer. But common age-related diseases - such as arterial calcification - are apparently negatively influenced by clonal blood formation, ”continues Prof. Rieger.

Clonal blood formation was significantly more common
Clonal blood formation is currently a hot topic in medical research.

The Frankfurt scientists have now been able to demonstrate for the first time that chronic heart failure after an infarction is also significantly influenced by clonal blood formation.

"We examined 200 patients with chronic heart failure at our clinic and found that clonal blood formation was significantly more common than in healthy people of the same age," explains Prof. Andreas Zeiher, director of cardiology at the University Hospital Frankfurt and co-initiator of the study.

The patients did not differ in the classic risk factors for heart failure.

However, if they had genetic changes in the typical DNMT3A or TET2 genes responsible for clonal blood formation in their blood cells, they showed a significantly worse course of the disease, had to be hospitalized more frequently and died earlier than patients without these mutations.

Search for the causes of the worse course of the disease

The genetic changes that lead to so-called clonal blood formation can already be detected from a normal blood sample.

In the future, this information could contribute significantly to improved precision medicine in patients with heart failure.

"Now it is a matter of high pressure to find out what these genetic changes in the blood cells cause in the heart and what are the causes of the worse course of the disease," said Prof. Stefanie Dimmeler, co-author of the study.

"This will show ways to treat patients with these genetic changes individually in order to prevent the negative consequences at an early stage." (Ad)

Author and source information

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