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Breakthrough study reveals doctors used shockwaves to regenerate heart tissue

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For the first time, doctors succeeded in regenerating damaged heart tissue. The findings were published in the European Heart Journal on Thursday, June 20. Surgeons in Austria used a device named the “space hairdryer” during open-heart bypass surgery to send gentle shockwaves to the patient’s heart. Ten minutes of treatment led to the reactivation of heart muscle and the regrowth of new vessels in the damaged area, which was previously believed to be impossible by medical experts.

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death around the world, according to the World Health Organization. However, the breakthrough is now lending hope to millions of people who have cardiovascular diseases. Heart bypass surgery only maintains heart function, while this experimental procedure apparently improves function.

The study found that those who received the treatment could walk further and blood flow to their heart improved by more than 11%. Researchers said that the findings suggest that patients who have the procedure can expect longer lives and better quality of life.

Right now, the sample size is small, consisting of 63 patients divided into two groups. Half of the patients underwent bypass surgery with shockwave treatment while the other half just underwent bypass surgery. Doctors said that they hope to expand trials to other patients to see if the findings can be further verified.

Eventually, the researchers believe that more than one-third of heart failure patients will be able to receive the treatment. The BBC reported that the researchers have developed a spin-off company called Heart Regeneration Technologies to develop the new medical device that is set to be available by 2025.

Researchers who used the shockwave method of treatment maintain that it is “feasible” and “safe.” The treatment is already used to treat injured ligaments and to break up kidney stones.

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[KARAH RUCKER]

HEART DISEASE IS THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH AROUND THE WORLD– BUT NOW A MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGH IS LENDING HOPE TO MILLIONS WITH THE CONDITION.

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER– DOCTORS SUCCEEDED IN REGENERATING DAMAGED HEART TISSUE.

USING A DEVICE DUBBED THE “SPACE HAIRDRYER” DURING OPEN-HEART BYPASS SURGERY, MEDICS IN AUSTRIA SENT GENTLE SHOCKWAVES TO THE HEART– FINDING JUST 10 MINUTES OF TREATMENT– LED TO REACTIVATION OF HEART MUSCLE AND REGROWTH OF NEW VESSELS IN THE DAMAGED AREA– PREVIOUSLY BELIEVED TO BE IMPOSSIBLE.

BYPASS SURGERY ONLY MAINTAINS HEART FUNCTION. THIS NEW PROCEDURE WOULD IMPROVE IT. 

THE STUDY FOUND THOSE WHO RECEIVED THE TREATMENT COULD WALK FURTHER AND BLOOD FLOW TO THEIR HEART IMPROVED BY MORE THAN 11 PERCENT– SUGGESTING A LONGER AND BETTER-QUALITY LIFE FOR PATIENTS.

RIGHT NOW, THE STUDY SAMPLE SIZE IS SMALL, AROUND 30 PATIENTS, BUT DOCTORS WANT TO START LARGER TRIALS TO CONFIRM THE FINDINGS. THOSE WHO USED THE “SPACE HAIRDRYER” SAID IT IS “FEASIBLE AND SAFE.”

THE ‘SHOCKWAVE” METHOD IS ALREADY USED TO TREAT INJURED LIGAMENTS AND TO BREAK UP KIDNEY STONES.

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