-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Aug. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Inflating a blood pressure
cuff on a patient's upper arm just before heart bypass surgery
reduces heart damage and may improve long-term survival, according
to a new study.
This practice, called "remote ischemic preconditioning,"
involves using the blood pressure cuff to briefly cut off, and then
restore, blood supply to an area of the body distant from the
heart, such as the arm.
The study appears in the Aug. 17 issue of
Heart muscle damage is a common consequence of complex heart
procedures such as bypass surgery and is associated with poorer
long-term survival and health problems such as heart attack,
according to a journal news release.
This study included 162 patients who had remote ischemic
preconditioning before heart bypass surgery. A blood pressure cuff
was inflated on their left upper arm, restricting blood supply for
five minutes, followed by five minutes of normal blood flow. This
was repeated three times.
These patients were compared to a control group of 167 patients
who did not undergo the procedure before heart bypass surgery.
Following surgery, the researchers measured the patients' blood
concentrations of troponin I, a protein that indicates heart muscle
damage. Higher concentrations indicate more damage. Seventy-two
hours after surgery, troponin levels were an average of 17 percent
lower among patients who had remote ischemic conditioning than
among those in the control group.
The researchers also followed patients for up to four years to
determine if remote preconditioning had any effect on long-term
health. One year after surgery, patients who had remote ischemic
preconditioning were 73 percent less likely to have died of any
cause, and 86 percent less likely to have died from heart attack or
stroke, compared to those in the control group.
"The results of our study are very encouraging that remote ischemic preconditioning not only reduces heart muscle injury but also improves long-term health outcomes for heart bypass patients, and we hope that these benefits will be confirmed in larger prospective studies which are currently taking place," study co-leader Professor Gerd Heusch, of the University School of Medicine Essen in Germany, said in the news release.
Dr. Matthias Thielmann, also of the University School of
Medicine Essen, said remote ischemic preconditioning is
noninvasive, cheap and safe. "This procedure could be a promising
and simple strategy to protect patients' heart muscle during
surgery and hopefully improve health outcomes after surgery," he
said in the news release.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about
heart bypass surgery.
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