Despite advances in treatment, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for almost 41 percent of all deaths. In the United States, nearly five million people are diagnosed with heart failure. More than a half million new cases are diagnosed annually and 250,000 deaths are attributed to the disease.
William Stanley, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology and biophysics at the Case medical school, is the principal investigator of the new research program which will build on a foundation of findings that came out of his laboratory and those of his co-investigators. Normally, the heart obtains its energy from fat (readers should not misconstrue this as an endorsement for a fatty diet). During heart failure, however, the researchers found that the dying heart at the end of life doesn't use much fat for energy. In fact, different genes turn on and literally change the heart cells to consume glucose (a type of sugar) for energy, which is actually a more efficient fuel.
This phenomenon does not occur in early stages of heart failure, only in the end stage of the disease. The finding raised the questions of whether or not this change is good for the heart, and what would happen if the change occurred earlier. If it did, could the heart pump more blood and help heart failure patients feel better? That is what the researchers hope to answer with four projects that c
Contact: George Stamatis
Case Western Reserve University