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Research: From moving better to recovering faster, here's what we're studying. 
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Heart & Vascular 

Research to discover new ways to diagnose and treat heart and vascular conditions is a major focus at Baylor. There are many areas of investigation ongoing, including:

  • Research in cardiovascular imaging and advanced cardiovascular surgical options for patients is supported by the Paul Thomas Cardiology Chair and Cardiothoracic Surgery Chair at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. Other research includes exploring minimally invasive closed-chest cardiac surgical procedures with a computer-enhanced surgery system (robotics) used to repair the heart's mitral valve. Vascular surgeons and interventional radiologists also recently completed a national research trial that studied new technology to treat patients with abdominal aortic aneurysms.
  • Cardiologists on the staff at Baylor Dallas are studying advanced technology, such as new pacemakers, defibrillators, and a drug-coated stent, which continue to revolutionize the treatment of heart disease. Research also is underway for drugs that treat high blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Researchers on the medical staff at Baylor have found that injections of adult stem cells into damaged heart tissue can significantly improve heart function in patients with severe congestive heart failure. The idea behind this research is that an adult's own stem cells introduced into a heart damaged from heart attack or chronic illness can differentiate into heart muscle cells and cells that promote new vessel growth, thereby improving the heart's ability to heal and contract.
  • Several studies are also being planned in conjunction with researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, to determine the use of adult stem cells in treating acute myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure. This involves the use of the thoracoscope and injection of adult autologous stem cells into the heart when a left ventricular assist device is placed and when the heart is removed in a transplant. This research will help explain the action of stem cells in the healing process.
  • Baylor researchers are participating in the Surgical Treatment of Ischemic Heart (STICH) Failure Trial funded by the National Institutes of Health. This trial will determine whether coronary artery bypass grafting surgery improves long-term survival compared to medical therapy. It also will determine whether a surgical procedure to restore normal left ventricular shape and size (surgical ventricular restoration) in patients with temporary paralysis of the front heart wall will improve long-term survival compared to the bypass grafting surgery or medical therapy without the surgical ventricular restoration. The Baylor Health Care System Foundation has also provided a grant to fund a study of direct myocardial injection of stem cells to treat ischemia.
  • Baron Hamman, M.D., and Robert Hebeler, M.D., are conducting a clinical trial in which the left ventricle is remodeled to make it smaller, tighter and more efficient to repair an aneurysm, a weak spot or enlargement of the heart that can cause congestive heart failure. Another goal is to create a national teaching center for this technique at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.
  • Baylor Dallas is conducting a large study of off-pump, beating heart surgery, pioneered by Carl Henry, M.D., and Dr. Hamman. Approximately 25 percent of the coronary artery surgeries at Baylor Dallas are performed without the use of a heart-lung bypass machine. The goal of this study is to improve patient care by decreasing the risk of brain injury and bleeding, which will also reduce costs associated with stays in the hospital and intensive care unit.
  • Surgeons on the medical staff at Baylor Dallas continue to lead the world in endoscopically harvesting radial arteries for coronary artery bypass grafts. They also rank fourth in number of veins harvested.
  • Cardiovascular surgeons on the medical staff at Baylor are implanting a new tissue aortic valve, which has the potential to last as long as the mechanical (metal and plastic) valves by limiting the attachment of calcium to valves.
  • Vascular surgeons on the medical staff at Baylor Dallas are examining whether the use of a cholesterol medication can improve treadmill-walking distances in patients with blocked leg arteries.
  • Baylor researchers are participating in an NIH-funded study to examine the causes of functional mitral regurgitation (MR), a condition where the mitral valve fails to close completely during cardiac contraction during ischemic heart failure. Baylor Dallas will serve as the core laboratory for analysis of the transesophageal echocardiogram studies done as part of the STICH main trial.
  • Soltero Cardiovascular Research Center has received numerous commendations from sponsors and the National Institute for Health for its dedication to quality. Cara East, M.D., a physician on the medical staff at Baylor, has guided and completed more than 50 clinical trials through the center, choosing only studies that will impact the way medicine is practiced in the United States, improve the lives and well-being of Baylor research participants and promote the mission of Baylor in providing charity care to individuals in need. Currently, the center has 18 ongoing studies including a study with the NIH to review four classes of blood pressure lowering medications and a trial that compares different cholesterol-lowering statins in patients with recent heart events.

Some research work is being performed only at Baylor Dallas as the inspiration of physicians on the medical staff at Baylor. Dr. East completed a study looking at novel sterols related to cholesterol in individuals with genetically high cholesterol levels. Dr. East, Teodoro Bottiglieri, Ph.D., of the Baylor Institute of Metabolic Disease and Andrew Fenves, M.D., chief of nephrology on the medical staff at Baylor Dallas are also studying new medications to lower blood levels of homocysteine.

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