CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE (CVD)
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one cause of death globally. In 2015, there were an estimated 423 million cases of CVD and 18 million CVD deaths. Of these, 9 million were attributed to ischemic heart disease (also known as Coronary Heart Disease) representing the leading cause of CVD in each world region. The cost of treating ischemic heart disease is staggering. In the US alone, over $20 billion are spent annually, of which $12 billion go to the treatment of acute myocardial infarcts.
Ischemic heart disease is caused by the inadequate supply of blood and, consequently, vital oxygen to the heart muscle. When the blood flow to the heart muscle is completely blocked, the heart muscle cells die, which is termed a heart attack or acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Short-term mortality rates caused directly by the infarct have been reduced significantly by re-establishing the blood flow with Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) and stents. However, the damage to the heart muscle and subsequent reperfusion injury often lead to complications. As the infarcted area begins to heal and to scar, drugs do not contribute to recovery or regeneration of the damaged tissue. A negative remodeling process eventually leading to HF often ensues. First year mortality for patients experiencing the most severe form of an infarct known as STEMI remains high at 7-18%. 48% of patients undergoing a PCI after AMI are re-hospitalized within a year.