A synthesized compound which is also found in the bile of a bear can help in recovery of some patients who have had a heart attack. The compound called UDCA (Ursodeoxycholic acid) is already used to diminish the production of cholesterol and to dissolve gallstones.
The latest study by researchers from Imperial College London has shown UDCA could also cure potentially hazardous abnormal heart rhythms. In many traditional Chinese medicine, bile of bear is already used to treat various diseases, but, according critics the way it s collected is cruel.
The most recent study shows that UDCA could prevent abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia, in people who have had a heart attack as well as in foetuses. UDCA changes the electrical characteristics of myofibroblast cells, which are present in the heart of foetus and in patients who have suffered a heart attack.
It was revealed through the study that myofibroblasts interrupt the transmission of electrical signals that control rhythm of the heart. For treating obstetric cholestasis, a condition that affects one in two hundred pregnant women, DCA is used already. The condition is associated with a higher risk for the foetus of arrhythmia and sudden death.
The compound lowers the levels of harmful bile acids which are caused by the disease and which can pass into the infant through the placenta. The researchers anticipate that a clinical trial will exhibit if the findings of this new study decipher to patients with heart failure.
According to study author Dr Julia Gorelik, these findings are exciting, the lab results suggest that UDCA could help the heart muscle carry out electrical signals more normally. This study provides some insight into how bile acids might cause fatal rhythm disturbances in foetal hearts, explained Peter Weiss berg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation.
If the same mechanism applies to adult hearts after a heart attack, this could prove to be a useful treatment to prevent serious heart rhythm disorders, added Dr Gaelic, while commenting on the study.