URBANA, Ill., (WCIA) — A researcher at the U of I is focusing his studies on healing hearts, especially for people who have suffered heart attacks.

Joe Sepe, a faculty member with the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, wants to make sure if you’ve had one heart attack, that you don’t have another.

He said it’s all part of a new field called neurocardiology. His research involves looking at the nerves around your heart and how they’re impacted after a heart attack.

Sepe said millions of people across America have heart attacks yearly, weakening those nerves. That could increase your chances of not only having another one but also developing rhythm irregularities.

To fix that, his team discovered two therapy models to restore the nerve function around your heart, aiming to get people back to a healthier lifestyle.

“You can think of that as an emotional burden a person has. If they suffer a heart attack, they’re always thinking, ‘is my heart a ticking time bomb moving forward? Can I enjoy going out for a run? Can I go to a scary movie?'” Sepe said. “Any stressful situation that could induce the second heart attack..maybe you don’t have to worry about that anymore. We think that can really improve quality of life.”

Right now, they’re only testing on mice. He knows the work could translate well to humans and patients who have suffered heart attacks.

Sepe has been working with other departments across the university to make that happen. Many departments are collaborating on different ideas to push the research forward.