Blood pressure cuff may be life-saving in acute heart attack
A new study published in the latest issue of the European Heart Journal has found that using a blood pressure cuff in patients being transported to hospital for treatment of acute heart attack can prove life-saving. The research was carried out by researchers from Aarhus University Hospital and Aarhus University.
The researchers followed up 251 patients between the period of February 2007 and November 2008 who had suffered ST elevation myocardial infarction and were taken to hospital for primary percutaneous coronary intervention. The patients were randomly divided into two groups. The first group received remote ischemic conditioning while the other group served as control. Remote ischemic conditioning was done using the blood pressure cuff. The cuff was tied in an arm and the pressure was elevated to 200 mm of Hg for 5 minutes. The pressure was released for five minutes and then again raised for five minutes. This procedure was repeated till the time the patient reached the hospital.
The primary end-point of the study was major cardiac and cerebrovascular events. The patients were followed up for a period of 4 years. During the follow up period, it was observed that the number of deaths as a result of heart disease was reduced by 61% in the group that received remote ischemic conditioning. The number of new cardiac symptoms was also reduced by 51% in this group.
The researchers have opined that creating artificial ischemia in some other part of the body improves the blood flow to the heart. In this study, by increasing the pressure in the blood pressure cuff, transient ischemia was produced in the upper limb. For the duration the blood supply to the upper limb was cut off, the blood supply to the heart increased. The repeated ischemic period in the upper limb increased the perfusion to the cardiac muscles, thereby reducing ischemic damage to the cardiac muscles by almost 30%. Further research is required in this field to establish whether remote ischemic conditioning can help in reducing mortality and preventing the development of heart failure in patients suffering from acute heart attack.
Editor: Dr. Bimal Rajalingam MBBS DNB
Sunday, August 10, 2014