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The secret to building a stronger heart: blood vessels

Image of a heart
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Jan 25 2018

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Research, Faculty

Every year, a small but not insignificant number of babies are born with hearts whose muscles are spongy and thin, although exactly what causes that condition isn’t clear. Now, Stanford biologists think they may have found a clue: spongy heart muscles could be the result of improperly developed blood vessels surrounding the heart, the researchers write Jan. 25 in Nature Communications. Apart from a deeper understanding of congenital heart disease, the results could shed light on how heart muscle forms in the first place, said the study’s two senior authors, Ashby Morrison and Kristy Red-Horse, assistant professors of biology. Until now, they said, no one realized what an important role newly-forming blood vessels played in supporting the growth of heart muscle – or that the support is more than just a matter of supplying oxygen.