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Clot-busting drug helps revive cardiac arrest patients

Using a "clot buster" drug normally reserved for treating patients during a heart attack, emergency room doctors were able to double the number of patients who could be revived from cardiac arrest. This sudden loss of heart function occurs in more than 260,000 people a year nationwide ?and at least 93 percent of them die.

"Clot-busting agents show promise as a new therapy for this abrupt and catastrophic loss of heart function," said William P. Bozeman, M.D., an emergency medicine specialist at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and lead author on the study, reported in the June issue of the journal Resuscitation and available now on-line.

The pilot study involved patients with cardiac arrest who didn't respond to standard therapy. Of 50 patients who received clot-busting therapy, 26 percent were revived, compared to 12 percent of patients who got standard therapy alone. However, not all patients who were revived lived long enough to be discharged from the hospital.

The study was conducted while Bozeman was at the University of Florida's Shands Medical Center and included three affiliated hospitals. It involved patients with cardiac arrest, which often occurs when the electrical signals that regulate the heart become erratic or irregular because of a heart attack, coronary heart disease, a blood clot in the lungs, or other causes. The heart stops beating and the brain starts to suffer permanent damage within four to six minutes. Death quickly follows.

The standard treatment for cardiac arrest is Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) measures, which include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), drugs such as adrenaline, and defibrillation, an electric shock to the heart.

"We are in dire need of additional treatment options for sudden cardiac arrest because there is only a 5 percent to 7 percent survival rate using interventions we now have," said Bozeman, associate professor of emergency medicine. "We hope this small
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Source:Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center


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