Coronary artery disease is a narrowing or blockage in an artery that restricts the flow of blood through the heart. The typical methods of restoring blood flow are coronary artery bypass surgery and angioplasty. With the surgical approach, physicians literally bypass the blockage by grafting a section of an artery or vein around it. During the most common type of angioplasty, a balloon-tipped catheter is guided within the artery to the point of the blockage, and the inflation of the balloon reopens the blood vessel. An estimated 850,000 bypasses and angioplasties are performed each year in the United States. However, about 100,000 patients with severe coronary artery disease are deemed ineligible for either procedure.
Recent studies have shown that a new therapy involving vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) can stimulate the growth of new blood vessels in the heart. The hormone, which occurs naturally in the body, causes new blood vessels to form, a process called angiogenesis.
Cleveland Clinic's Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute studied 15 patients to examine the possibility of growing new blood vessels in heart patients with coronary artery disease that cannot be helped by angioplasty or bypass surgery.This clinical trial was designed to determine the safety and dosage of VEGF therapy. Results of the trial, reported at the national American College of Cardiology conference in March 1998, showed that VEGF passed the safety test with no significant side effects. Thirteen out of the 15 patients reported an improvement in their anginal symptoms and 5 out of 7 patients who underwent a repeat coronary angiogram (an x-ray movie of the heart), showed the growth of new blood vessels.
There are currently no active trials for angiogenesis at Cleveland Clinic, We are currently maintaining a list of potential patients in the event that we have the opportunity to offer this treatment in the future.
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