Nearly 5.1 million people have heart failure. Half of these people die within five years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In a new innovative study, scientists have recently discovered an unknown cardiac molecule that could help cure and prevent the condition.

In the study, researchers, led by Dr. Ching-Pin Chang, associate professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, restored levels of the cardiac molecule Myheart (myosin heavy-chain-associated RNA transcript) in mice with heart failure. The progression of heart failure subsequently stopped. The researchers found that the cardiac molecule Myheart is a non-coding RNA responsible for controling the BRG1 protein, a protein that plays a huge role in heart development in the fetus.

As an adult, the BRG1 protein is not needed except when the heart is subjected to a lot of stress from high blood pressure or a heart attack. Scientists explained in their research that in mice with stress-induced high levels of the BRG1 protein, they restored Myheart to normal levels with transfer technology. When Myheart was restored, it stopped the heart failure. "I think of Myheart as a molecular crowbar that pries BRG1 off the genomic DNA and prevents it from manipulating genetic activity," Chang, director of molecular and translational medicine at the Krannert Institute of Cardiology, said in a press release.

According to the CDC, heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to support other organs in the body. It is a serious condition but doesn’t mean the heart has stopped beating. Eating unhealthy foods, smoking tobacco, and being obese are all risk factors for heart failure.

Scientists are still working on how to mimic the experiment they performed on the mice in humans. Myheart is too large to use as a drug in humans, so researchers are trying to figure out how to make a smaller version of the molecule to use as a drug. Until the drug is developed and approved, there are other ways that can help treat heart failure. The National Heart, Lung and Blood institute says in its report that a healthy diet is crucial to treating heart failure. Drinking the proper amount of fluids and losing weight if you are obese are all ways that can help stop heart failure.

Source: Chang C-P, Han P, Li W, et al. A long noncoding RNA protects the heart from pathological hypertrophy. Nature. 2014.