Study author Dr. Joshua Hare of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine said the 13-month study compared mesenchymal stem cells from adult bone marrow from donors and from patients themselves.
Thirty patients with chronic ischemic cardiomyopathy received various doses of mesenchymal stem cells -- half from their own cells, while the other half received donor cells.
Regenerating new heart muscle with mesenchymal stem cells requires growing large numbers of the stem cells, which takes six to eight weeks, but using already-prepared donor cells might avoid this delay to treatment, Hare said.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions, found heart failure improved in 28 percent of those receiving donor cells, and in 50 percent of those receiving their own cells.
"Because antibodies don't attack mesenchymal stem cells, donor cells can be prepared in advance and stored until needed," Hare said in a statement. "Perhaps using donor cells is the more feasible approach."