Ischemic heart diseases (IHD) are the leading cause of death worldwide. Although the principal form of treatment of IHD is myocardial reperfusion, the recovery of coronary blood flow after ischemia can cause severe and fatal cardiac dysfunctions, mainly due to the abrupt entry of oxygen and ionic deregulation in cardiac cells. The ability of these cells to protect themselves against injury including ischemia and reperfusion (I/R), has been termed “cardioprotection”. This protective response can be stimulated by pharmacological agents (adenosine, catecholamines and others) and non-pharmacological procedures (conditioning, hypoxia and others). Several intracellular signaling pathways mediated by chemical messengers (enzymes, protein kinases, transcription factors and others) and cytoplasmic organelles (mitochondria, sarcoplasmic reticulum, nucleus and sarcolemma) are involved in cardioprotective responses. Therefore, advancement in understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the cardioprotective response can lead to the development of new pharmacological and non-pharmacological strategies for cardioprotection, thus contributing to increasing the efficacy of IHD treatment. In this work, we analyze the recent advances in pharmacological and non-pharmacological strategies of cardioprotection.
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