Study: Injection Saves Lives for Heart Attack Patients

Paramedics armed with a cheap, three-ingredient injection cocktail were able to reduce heart attack patients' risk of dying by 50%


 
 

| Thursday, March 29, 2012


Paramedics armed with a cheap, three-ingredient injection cocktail were able to reduce heart attack patients' risk of dying by 50 percent, said a US study released on Tuesday. When the shot was given early to patients with signs of a heart attack, the mixture of glucose, insulin and potassium, or GIK, showed remarkable success in preventing full cardiac arrest -- when the heart stops beating -- and even death.

And each shot cocktail costs only about $50, according to the research presented at the American College of Cardiology's 61st annual scientific meeting in Chicago.

"When started immediately in the home or on the way to the hospital -- even before the diagnosis is completely established -- GIK appears to reduce the size of heart attacks and to reduce by half the risk of having a cardiac arrest or dying," said co-principal investigator Harry Selker.

"Because the trial is the first to show GIK is effective when used by paramedics in real-world community settings, it could have important implications for the treatment of heart attacks," added Selker, executive director of the Institute for Clinical Research at Tufts Medical Center.

Previous trials using the formula were inconclusive, possibly because the shot was being given to patients too late, he said.

But this trial, which randomized 911 patients to receive either the shot or a placebo and was carried out by trained paramedics in 13 cities across the United States, showed positive effects in those who were given the treatment.

The treatment did not prevent heart attacks from occurring, but cut the likelihood of cardiac arrest by 50 percent over patients who did not get the shot. The risk of immediate death also dropped by 50 percent.

The effects were visible over the month following the event as well, with patients given the shot 40 percent less likely to die or be hospitalized for heart failure than those who did not. In patients with a certain kind of heart attack in which a coronary artery becomes completely blocked, known as an ST-elevation heart attack, immediate GIK was associated with a 60 percent reduction in cardiac arrest or death.

Those who got GIK and were later confirmed to have had a heart attack saw an average of two percent of their heart tissue damaged, compared to 10 percent in the placebo group.

While 23 percent of the suspected heart attacks in the study turned out to be false alarms, patients who got the GIK shot showed no negative side effects from the treatment. The key difference in this trial compared to previous ones appeared to be the act of giving the shot right away, rather than waiting for a confirmed diagnosis at the hospital.

"We wanted to do something that is effective and can be used anywhere," said Selker.

"More people die of heart attacks outside the hospital than inside the hospital. Hundreds of thousands of people per year are dying out in the community; we wanted to direct our attention to those patients."

For now, the treatment is not widely available. Further research is planned to track the study participants over the next year and evaluate its longer-term effects and benefits.

 



Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, Cardiac and Circulation, STEMI, heart attack, cardiac

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

NAEMT: Transforming EMS

A look inside at the Mobile Healthcare Paramedic system.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Austin-Travis County Community Health Paramedic Program

Overview of program provides operation and referral details.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Flight Paramedic’s Perfect Weekend

Carilion Lifeguard Flight Paramedic shares what would make his perfect weekend.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Honolulu EMS Pilot Program

New program tests change in shift schedule for EMTs and Paramedics.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Numerous Rescues during Arizona Flooding

Severe flooding across the region prompted several rescues.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Colorado Hiker Rescue

Injured hiker spent three hours in a crevice.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Airlift at Swiss Train Derailment

Helicopters used to help reach the injured.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >