PRO­TEIN JAB TO STOP HEART It’s magic! AT­TACKS Cor­po­ral Jones is BGT win­ner

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - By Lucy John­ston HEALTH EDI­TOR

HEART at­tack sur­vivors at risk of a fa­tal re­peat seizure have gained a new hold on life.

Bri­tish re­searchers have found a way to use a nat­u­ral pro­tein to re­pair dam­aged heart tis­sue. One mil­lion UK pa­tients could ben­e­fit

from the break­through, which is ex­pected to save tens of thou­sands of lives ev­ery year.

The re­search team, led by Pro­fes­sor Ken Suzuki at the Wil­liam Harvey Re­search In­sti­tute of Queen Mary Univer­sity of Lon­don, dis­cov­ered a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring pro­tein, known as “cy­tokines”, which can stim­u­late a unique type of heart cell to re­pair the in­jured tis­sue.

An in­jec­tion of the pro­tein ac­ti­vates the cells, called “macrophages”, lead­ing to in­creased pro­duc­tion of strong con­nec­tive tis­sue and blood ves­sels and pro­tec­tion of heart mus­cle cells.

The re­searchers will now try to find the best way of de­liv­er­ing the pro­tein to heart at­tack pa­tients in the form of a drug which they say should be com­mer­cially avail­able within three to five years.

Heart at­tacks hap­pen to 188,000 peo­ple a year in the UK and around seven out of 10 peo­ple sur­vive, mean­ing al­most a mil­lion peo­ple are cur­rently liv­ing with dam­aged or­gans and are at risk of a new seizure.

Ex­perts es­ti­mate a third of those who suf­fer a heart at­tack will die from fur­ther car­diac causes while oth­ers will suf­fer health prob­lems for life. The larger the heart at­tack, the larger the area of heart mus­cle that is dam­aged.

Sig­nif­i­cant da­m­age means the heart mus­cle is too weak or stiff to work prop­erly. Re­pair­ing dam­aged heart tis­sue could dra­mat­i­cally al­ter their prospects.

Pro­fes­sor Suzuki, a world-lead­ing spe­cial­ist, said: “This is very ex­cit­ing and I be­lieve could lead to a new treat­ment that could save tens of thou­sands of lives a year.

“Many pa­tients who have suf­fered a heart at­tack have to live with the prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with dam­aged heart mus­cle, which in­clude fa­tigue and breath­less­ness and also the in­creased risk of heart fail­ure.

“A drug to re­pair the in­jured heart tis­sue could help elim­i­nate this.”

Typ­i­cal of vic­tims is Sally Bee, celebrity chef on the Lor­raine morn­ing TV show, who sur­vived three suc­ces­sive heart at­tacks in Septem­ber 2004 and now lives with heart prob­lems.

She said: “For me this devel­op­ment is the big­gest news that has ever hit the earth.”

Mrs Bee, of Strat­ford upon Avon, was told she only sur­vived her heart at­tacks be­cause she was so fit.

Her ill­ness came as a re­sult of a rare con­di­tion af­fect­ing one of the main ar­ter­ies to her heart and led to her col­lapse at a chil­dren’s birth­day party. She suf­fered se­vere pain in her left arm, nausea, sweat­ing and a cen­tral crush­ing pain in her chest. The mother-ofthree went to hos­pi­tal but was sent home with in­di­ges­tion medicine.

How­ever, two days later she suf­fered an­other heart at­tack. She re­turned to hos­pi­tal and had a third at­tack while be­ing ex­am­ined by doc­tors. Although she sur­vived, the da­m­age to her heart mus­cle was “cat­a­strophic”.

It has af­fected her life pro­foundly but Mrs Bee has ded­i­cated her life to re­main­ing fit and as strong as pos­si­ble by walk­ing reg­u­larly and eat­ing healthily. “At first walk­ing felt like I was walk­ing in quick­sand,” she said. “The heart doesn’t pump ef­fi­ciently enough to al­low you to move prop­erly. I couldn’t run, do weights or do any stren­u­ous ex­er­cise.

“On the out­side I would ap­pear to lead a nor­mal life but be­hind closed doors it’s a dif­fer­ent story.

“I have to build rest into my day. I have to eat healthily. For me this is not a life­style choice, it is a life and death choice.

“Ev­ery morn­ing I feel lucky to be alive and with my fam­ily. But hav­ing an­other heart at­tack is con­stantly in the back of my mind.”

Bar­bara Harpham, na­tional di­rec­tor of Heart Re­search UK, which is fund­ing the pro­tein re­search, said: “This will ben­e­fit pa­tients as soon as pos­si­ble. With an age­ing pop­u­la­tion new treat­ments are ur­gently needed and this would not only save lives, but could also dra­mat­i­cally im­prove qual­ity of life.”

Most heart at­tacks are caused by coro­nary heart dis­ease in which the ar­ter­ies which sup­ply blood to the heart be­come clogged with de­posits. It is the UK’s sin­gle big­gest killer, caus­ing al­most 70,000 deaths in 2014.

Some 2.3 mil­lion peo­ple are thought to be liv­ing with heart dis­ease, which has been linked to smok­ing, di­a­betes, high blood pres­sure, be­ing over­weight and poor diet.

Pic­ture: SAM PEARCE

CRIP­PLED: An­drew Reilly is de­mand­ing ac­tion

SUR­VIVOR: TV chef Sally Bee

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