Rebuilding broken hearts Academic Article uri icon


  • A MyOCARDIAL INFARCTION, popularly known as a heart attack, usually happens because a major blood vessel supplying the heart's left ventricle is suddenly blocked by an obstruction, such as a clot. Part of the cardiac muscle, or myocardium, is deprived of blood and therefore oxygen, which kills the heart's contractile muscle cells (called cardiomyocytes) and leaves a swath of dead tissue. The size of this infarct will depend on the size of the area fed by the blood vessel that was blocked. Because myocytes rarely divide, surviving cells cannot repopulate the area by replicating themselves. Local stem cells, which act as progenitors of new cells in some other tissues, are proving elusive in the heart and seem unable to heal the wound on their own. Instead, noncontractile fibrous cells

publication date

  • January 1, 2004