Heart failure occurs when damage to the heart tissue prevents it from filling or pumping blood normally. Even though heart tissue is the first to grow in a developing human, current research suggests that heart stem cells can only be replaced at a very slow rate and our ability to make new heart cells declines as we age. This means that when a heart is damaged, it has little chance for self-repair before the damage becomes permanent.
Currently there are no Health Canada or FDA approved stem cell treatments available for heart failure. Researchers are looking at various ways to help repair heart tissue, either by coaxing our existing stem cells to become more efficient, or by introducing additional stem cells to help them out. Some early clinical trials have begun to test these processes, but it may yet be many years before such therapies are readily available to patients.