There may be a new way to mitigate the damage to the heart caused by heart attack, according to new research.
The study, conducted by researchers the University of Oxford, discovered that accelerating the growth of lymphatic vessels improved the rate at which the heart healed, and repaired its ability to pump blood.
The researchers stimulated the growth of lymphatic vessels in a group of mice by using a protein called VEGF-C.
Heart disease is one of the most common diabetic complications. Over time, prolonged exposure to high blood glucose levels can damage the lining of the arteries, thickening them and making them more likely to be clogged. Maintaining good heart health, therefore, is vital for people with diabetes. Ways to improve heart health include taking part in regular exercise, not smoking, and eating a diet full of non-starchy vegetables and low in low-density lipoprotein (LDL), commonly known as “bad” cholesterol.
The lymphatic system is responsible for moving white blood cells through the body, where they can fight off injury and infection. This is one of the first studies to examine the potential effects of the lymphatic system on heart health.
“We have shown that given the right stimulus after a heart attack there is a significant response from the lymphatic system which enhances the heart’s healing process and limits the damage left behind,” said lead author Professor Paul Riley.
“This significantly improved the pumping function of heart.”
Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundatio, said: “Relatively little is known about the role of the lymphatic system in the heart. This research has shed new light on how lymphatic vessels develop and shows for the first time that they may play a significant role in the heart’s response to injury after a heart attack.”

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