THOUGHT OF THE DAY :

The biggest ever stem cell trial involving heart attack patients has got under way in London. The study, which will involve 3,000 patients in 11 European countries, should show whether the treatment can cut death rates and repair damaged tissue after a heart attack.

All the patients will have standard treatment to widen their narrowed arteries, which involves inserting a small tube called a stent. In addition, half the patients will have stem cells taken from their bone marrow and injected into their heart.

This will happen within days of them suffering a heart attack.

"It's fantastic to be part of this," said Neal Grainger, 54, from Essex, who was the first patient in the UK to be treated.

UK's biggest killer

He had an infusion of his bone marrow stem cells at the London Chest Hospital just days after his heart attack last month.

"It's strange having something taken out of you and then put back, but I hope it helps me and a lot of others."

Cardiovascular disease is the biggest killer in the UK.

During a heart attack, a fatty plaque causes a blood clot inside an artery, starving heart muscle of oxygen and leaving scar tissue.

Although more and more patients are surviving heart attacks, they can be left considerably weaker because heart muscle has been permanently damaged.

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