By Luke Frank
The greater Albuquerque area was one of 13 communities nationwide to participate in a recent, innovative national study supported by the NIH National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute involving a glucose-insulin-potassium (GIK) solution for patients experiencing symptoms such as chest pains.
According to the study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that treating patients with GIK intravenously within the first hour did not prevent a heart attack, but did reduce its severity; and there were fewer cardiac arrests or deaths.
Specific results show that while the placebo group lost 10 percent of their heart muscle to a heart attack, only two percent was lost for the GIK group. Moreover, the risk of cardiac arrest or death was reduced by more than 50 percent for the GIK group.
The study also revealed that for patients with "ST-elevation" heart attacks (requiring immediate intervention), the placebo group heart attacks consumed 12 percent of the heart muscle, versus three percent in those who received GIK. And in this group, cardiac arrest or mortality occurred in 14 percent among those receiving placebo, versus four percent in those getting GIK.
The GIK treatment was administered in the ambulance and continued during the hospitalization for 12 hours. The cost of the treatment is only about $50.
Under the local direction of UNM School of Medicine Dr. Michael Richards and Dr. Darren Braude, and Dr. Phil Froman at Albuquerque Ambulance Service, people who called 911 with symptoms of a heart attack from 2008 through July 2011 were evaluated for enrollment in the study.
The Albuquerque area was one of the largest enrolling sites in the study; training more than 300 paramedics, screening almost 20,000 patients, and enrolling 187 of the approximately 900 patients enrolled nationally.
UNM's Health Sciences Center, Presbyterian Hospital, Heart Hospital, Lovelace Medical Center, and the Rio Rancho, Albuquerque, Bernalillo County and Sandoval County fire departments also contributed to the study.
"Hundreds of thousands of patients across the nation die from heart attacks each year," said Richards. "Our community benefitted as participants in this important investigation that yielded promising results. Area patients involved with the study are invited to contact me for more information about the results."
The national study was led by Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Mass., under the direction of Principal Investigator Dr. Harry P. Selker, executive director of the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts Medical Center.
For more information, visit http://www.immediatetrial.com.