Common heart attack treatment has damaging effects

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Scientists from Indiana University are challenging standard treatment methods used to prevent muscle damage during a heart attack.

They asserted that a common treatment given to patients experiencing a heart attack may not be as successful in halting muscle damage as once thought.

The research is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and was conducted by Rohan Dharmakumar et al.

Heart attacks occur when the blood vessel supplying oxygen to the heart muscle—also known as the coronary artery—is suddenly blocked.

In heart attack patients, the amount of heart muscle that is irreversibly damaged is directly linked to how much time elapses between the onset of heart attack symptoms and when the blockage is opened up.

More damage means a higher risk of complications like heart failure after a heart attack.

Therefore, treating heart attacks focuses on opening up the coronary arteries as quickly as possible through a procedure called reperfusion—often with a stent.

The common belief in reperfusion therapy is that once the coronary arteries are opened, the damage to the heart muscle is stopped. However, that is not always the case.

In the study, the team found that if reperfusion results in internal bleeding—or, hemorrhage—within the heart muscle, the heart muscle can continue to die even after the culprit coronary artery is opened.

Hemorrhage is known to occur in the heart muscle of around half of all heart attack patients who undergo reperfusion.

The team studied blood samples of heart attack patients obtained before and after they received reperfusion therapy.

Using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (cardiac MRI), they noninvasively identified which patients experienced hemorrhage within their heart muscle following reperfusion.

A key protein called troponin is known to go up with heart muscle damage; in patients with heart muscle hemorrhage, troponin values rose more rapidly reaching higher values when compared to patients without hemorrhage.

Similar findings to those seen in patients mean that the team can use the animal model to develop new treatments to reduce hemorrhage that can be brought back to help patients.

The team asserts in his study that infarct size is not only determined by the restricted blood supply to the heart, but also by the effects of reperfusion therapy.

The introduction of hemorrhage within the at-risk area might in some cases nearly negate total the benefits of reperfusion therapy.

The researchers say that for physicians, having an awareness of the role reperfusion can play in continued muscle death can help in providing better treatment to patients in the future.

If you care about heart attack, please read studies about drug combo that can halve the risk of heart attack, stroke, and this antioxidant drug may protect against stroke and heart attack.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about healthy diet that could prevent recurrent heart attacks, and results showing scientists find the key to curing COVID-19.

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