This entry was posted by Tuesday, 24 September, 2013
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heart attack breakthrough



Don’t have a heart attack, okay?  All kinds of research has gone into this area of medicine but getting to the hospital and then walking out the door alive is still iffy.


Can you say a Dane has Chuztpah?

I’m just asking. Because Hans Botker has plenty. He went after a problem that nobody’s been able to solve – getting heart attack patients to the hospital alive and in decent shape – and he solved it with  a blood pressure cuff. It’s so clever it makes you go “Aw jeez! Why didn’t I think of that!”.

Here’s what he did – he and his team. Let’s not forget to give credit to everyone involved in this project at Aarhus University Hospital and Aarhus University in Denmark.

In a “heart attack”, the blood vessels supplying the heart have gotten so thickened with fatty plaque that the heart can’t get enough blood for its own use.

Most people who’s arteries are narrowing notice it’s harder to walk up a flight of stairs. Sometimes there’s pain (“angina”) that comes and goes. If a heart attack occurs, it may be accompanied by weakness and lightheadedness – probably chest pain and pressure too although not always. At that point, the heart is in trouble and, if fast action isn’t taken, the injury  will become permanent and it won’t be able to maintain a beat.

A non-beating heart is a bad thing.

So the Danish team started thinking about what simple things could be done to support a  “starving” heart  on the way to the hospital. The idea of cuffing the arms came up.

Your extremities – your harms and legs – can go for several minutes without blood. That’s the idea behind a tourniquet. If, on the ride to the hospital,   blood pressure cuffs were used to periodically reduce the circulation to the limbs, wouldn’t that leave a little more juice for the heart itself?

Blood pressure cuffs for heart attacks? It sure makes sense.

The four year study of 251 patients  is being published by the European Heart Journal on-line. The study, which was run by Astrid Sloth, showed a reduction in new heart symptoms by about 51% and very few fatalities.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 10 (more or less).

The idea is great and the preliminary results are exciting. Because of the profound implications, even a well conducted four year study with 251 participants isn’t good enough. More will be needed. But, you know what? If Mister ScienceAintSoBad were in charge, he would place  extra cuffs in all ambulances. Why wait? I say let’s add this promising procedure when transporting suspected heart attacks.

It’s easy enough.

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Cartoon is by the author



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