APR 11, 2017 2:51 PM PDT

Open Heart Surgery Takes A Toll on Heart Muscle Cells

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Injury induced by stopping and restarting the heart during open-heart surgery, known as ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury, results in damaged cardiomyocytes, the muscle cells of the heart. A new study finds for the first time that cardiomyocytes respond to this damage by simultaneously destroying and creating energy-producing organelles.

Normal cardiomyocytes. Credit: Humpath.com

I/R injury occurs during open-heart surgeries incorporating cardiopulmonary bypass machines, procedures done for the purpose of heart transplants, artery bypass, or the correction of faulty heart valves.

On a cellular level, I/R injury negatively affects ATP and intracellular pH and leads to tissue death. Depending on how long the cells are blocked off from blood supply, the damage can be even worse. The majority of people undergoing these procedures successfully recover, but in the worst case scenario, a patient could either never fully recover or even suffer heart failure, both as a result of cardiomyocyte damage due to I/R

Existing measures to prevent cell damage during surgery include “cooling and infusing” muscle with potassium to stop contractions. "Despite these measures, ischemia/reperfusion injury remains a major cause of complications after heart surgery," said first author of the JCI Insight study, Allen Andres, PhD, from the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute.

"By accelerating beneficial aspects of this process, doctors one day may be able to speed up healing from open-heart surgery," explained principal investigator Roberta Gottlieb, MD.

The new study provided an analysis of cardiomyocytes from tissue samples taken before and after open-heart surgery. Researchers saw that cardiomyocytes were destroying mitochondria but also creating new mitochondria, a dual effect they are unsure whether it is helpful or harmful.

Cedars-Sinai scientists have much left to learn about the cellular processes involved in I/R damage. In order to develop effective drugs for heart cell injury in humans, Gottlieb said, “we need to have a better understanding of the beneficial and deleterious processes that characterize the human heart's response to ischemia and reperfusion."

Sources: International Review of Cell and Molecular Biology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

About the Author
I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JUN 29, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
New Study Shows Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Adult Cancer Survivors
JUN 29, 2022
New Study Shows Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Adult Cancer Survivors
With modern diagnostics and treatments, cancer survival rates continue to improve. Though numbers vary depending on the ...
JUL 13, 2022
Cardiology
Eating Eggs May Lower Heart Disease Risk
JUL 13, 2022
Eating Eggs May Lower Heart Disease Risk
Eating up to one egg per day may lower heart disease risk.
JUL 26, 2022
Plants & Animals
Cocoa Could Help Reduce Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness
JUL 26, 2022
Cocoa Could Help Reduce Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness
A new study found that cocoa can reduce blood pressure and stiff arteries, but only when both are elevated. The cocoa pl ...
NOV 03, 2022
Cardiology
Time-restricted Eating Improves Cardiovascular Health in Firefighters
NOV 03, 2022
Time-restricted Eating Improves Cardiovascular Health in Firefighters
Reducing eating time to a 10-hour window improves quality of life and health measures.
NOV 18, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Study Finds Commonly Used Substances Increase Risk of Atrial Fibrillation
NOV 18, 2022
Study Finds Commonly Used Substances Increase Risk of Atrial Fibrillation
A study found that commonly used drugs increase the development of a potentially deadly heart-rhythm disorder called atr ...
NOV 28, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Experimental Drug Lowers 'Bad' Cholesterol by 70%
NOV 28, 2022
Experimental Drug Lowers 'Bad' Cholesterol by 70%
An experimental orally-administered drug reduces 'bad cholesterol' in mice by 70%. The corresponding research wa ...
Loading Comments...