New research has found that blood pressure cuffs may help save the lives of patients who are suffering from acute heart attacks. This is exciting news for the medical industry, as such cardiovascular events can lead to damage of the muscle. As there are an estimated 935,000 heart attacks and 795,000 strokes annually in the U.S., these findings may prove to have an astounding impact on the population.1
What the professionals found
The investigation was conducted at the Aarhus University Hospital and revolved around the results of 333 patients who experienced acute ST-elevation between February 2007 and November 2008.2 When an acute heart attack was reported, emergency medical professionals cut off blood flow to the patient's arm during transportation to the hospital. This helped to reduce the number of subsequent cardiac symptoms experienced by individuals and reduced cases of mortality as well.3
From there, the investigators tracked the results of 251 patients who were assigned to either receive conditioning or no conditioning in addition to the typical care that is provide during transportation to a health care facility when acute cardiovascular issues occur. Those who were provided conditioning from the blood pressure cuff experienced less damage to their heart tissue, which is clinically beneficial. When it comes to the numbers, the researchers found that new heart symptoms reduced by 47 percent when compared to the control group. Additionally, the number of deaths that occurred due to heart disease decreased by 60 percent.
Based on these findings, the professionals who led the study came to the conclusion that the use of blood pressure cuffs in these situations may help to improve long-term clinical outcomes for patients.
The science of it
Now, the question is how blood pressure cuffs are able to provide these beneficial results during acute heart attack. Well, when one occurs, the blood supply to part of the cardiac muscle is blocked as a result. During this study, when a patient experienced such an event, the paramedics then placed a cuff around his or her left arm. As this is inflated, blood is unable to flow to the arm, which creates a lack of oxygen.4
Once the ambulance arrived at the hospital with the patient, a cardiologist would insert a catheter using a small balloon. This was placed in the heart by way of an artery in the patient's groin. Once inserted, the balloon inflated and opened the affected blood vessel in the heart, allowing for restoration of blood flow in the entire cardiac muscle once again.
Thirty days following treatment, a follow-up was conducted with each patient. This gave researchers the opportunity to see whether or not the preconditioning reduced the amount of permanent damage experienced by the heart during an acute attack. And, researchers found that it in fact had. This proved that the use of a blood pressure cuff during transportation to the hospital following an acute heart attack reduces the level of damage experienced by the muscle.
- Surgical equipment
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1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Chronic disease prevention and health promotion" July 21, 2010
2 European Heart Journal, "Improved long-term clinical outcomes in patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction undergoing remote ischaemic conditioning as an adjunct to primary percutaneous coronary intervention" September 12, 2013
3 Aarhus University Hospital, "Blood pressure cuff may save lives in patients with acute heart attack" September 17, 2013
4 Aarhus University Hospital, "Preconditioning"