Cardiac disease is the leading cause of death in the developed world. Ventricular arrhythmias associated with myocardial ischaemia and/or infarction are a major contributor to cardiovascular mortality, and require improved prevention and treatment. Drugs, devices, and radiofrequency catheter ablation have made important inroads, but have significant limitations ranging from incomplete success to undesired toxicities and major side effects. These limitations derive from the nature of the intervention. Drugs are frequently ineffective, target the entire heart, and often do not deal with the specific arrhythmia trigger or substrate. Devices can terminate rapid rhythms but at best indirectly affect the underlying disease, while ablation, even when appropriately targeted, induces additional tissue damage. In contrast, exploration of gene and cell therapies are expected to provide a targeted, non-destructive, and potentially regenerative approach to ischaemia- and infarction-related arrhythmias. Although these approaches are in the early stages of development, they carry substantial potential to advance arrhythmia prevention and treatment.
Keywords: Arrhythmias; Gene therapy; Myocardial infarction; Stem cells.
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