During a heart attack, blood stop flowing in to the heart and stops oxygen getting to the organ. A heart attack is a medical emergency – and should be treated as soon as possible.
If a heart attack occurs, the heart muscle replaces the dead tissue with scars made of cells.
These are called fibroblasts which do not help the heart pump and can cause the heart to weaken.
A number of people who have experienced heart attacks also develop heart failure.
However, experts believe they may have found a way to prevent the damage.
A protein – also known as a transcription factor – called GATA4 could help prevent fibrosis occurring.
“Our most important goal is to treat post-heart attack cardiac failure,” said Dr Megumi Mathison, associate professor of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine.
“Our approach is to restore cardiac function by reprogramming scar tissue into cardiomyocytes.”
Cardiomyocytes are muscle cells which make up the heart muscle.
Researchers revealed that administration of a cocktail made of transcription factors Gata4, Mef2c and Tbx5 (GMT) – or proteins – results in less scar tissue, or fibrosis, and up to a 50 percent increase in cardiac function in small animal models of the disease.
The researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine found the first evidence that, of the three components in the GMT cocktail, only Gata4 was able to reduce post-heart attack fibrosis and improve cardiac function in a rat model of heart attack.
Experts said the cocktail of proteins also reduced post heart-attack fibrosis.