Today, on World Heart Day 2019, we are being encouraged to become Heart Heroes. By making a promise to yourself and those around you to live a heart-healthy life, you can be a Heart Hero. Each year cardiovascular disease (CVD) claims the lives of 17.9 million people. It is the leading cause of death and disability in the world. However, by making just a few simple lifestyle choices you can lower your risk of CVD. Small changes such as eating a balanced diet and being active for at least 30mins a day, or bigger changes such as giving up smoking and reducing your alcohol consumption can help to prevent heart disease and stroke.
In addition to preventative measures, we at RESTORE want to improve the lives of those suffering from cardiovascular diseases, including congenital heart defects, by developing and making regenerative therapies available to all those in need. The heart has limited endogenous regenerative capacity, and current treatment options such as mechanical circulatory support are limited in the long term due to side effects such as bleeding complications, pump thrombosis (blockage) and infection.
Members within the RESTORE community are working towards developing clinically relevant off-the-shelf bioengineered scaffolds to promote the endogenous regeneration of heart tissues and circumvent the limitations of current treatment options. By moving towards the generation of an off-the-shelf product, such Advanced Therapies can be made more easily available to a wider patient population, a key aim of RESTORE.
You can read more about the development of heart valve replacements using human cell-derived tissue engineered matrices for clinical use here and for a review discussing off-the-shelf tissue-engineered heart valves click here.