Heart Disease & Stroke - Progress Through Research

Gene therapy designed to grow new blood vessels in the heart muscle led the list of the top 10 research advances in heart disease and stroke compiled by the American Heart Association. The list, first created in 1996, recognizes achievements in basic and clinical research that may have the most impact on the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

The most recent edition of the list is as follows:

  1. Gene therapy to create a "natural" bypass around blockage
  2. New drugs to prevent clots causing heart attacks and strokes
  3. Relationship between inflammation and heart attacks
  4. Detection of unstable plaques in vessels by imaging technology
  5. Heart cells recover thanks to left ventricular assist device
  6. Tobacco's effects from fewer than 10 cigarettes a day
  7. Impact of diet and exercise on blood cholesterol levels
  8. Education of people with heart symptoms to go to the emergency room
  9. Epidemic of cardiovascular disease and stroke
  10. Nobel Prize for discovery of nitric oxide (which relaxes blood vessels).

This list was issued at the end of 1999 by the American Heart Association and is based upon developments reported during 1998. We will comment upon each of these ten advances:

1. Gene therapy to create a "natural" bypass to circumvent plaques obstructing the heart's blood vessels.

People with heart disease may be routinely treated in the future by a genetically engineered technique that induces the growth of new blood vessels. The new vessels would help restore blood flow to the hearts of people whose arteries are obstructed by plaques. By impeding blood flow, these obstructions can cause severe chest pain (angina) and heart attacks.