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Stopping blood flow in the arm prevents damage to the heart in case of attack

27 February 2010 Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

Heart with stethoscopeDanish researchers discovered that if people having a heart attack temporarily stop the blood flow in the arm it prevents damage and strengthens the heart in the event of future attacks.

The conclusion emerged from a study that involved 150 patients who were treated like this in the ambulance when the heart attack occurred. The procedure, which cut off the blood supply in a patient’s arm for five minutes using a standard blood pressure cuff, was repeated four times with a 5 minute break on the way to hospital and it was noted that all the patients suffered less damage to heart tissue than those not treated like this.

Professor Hans Botker from Aarhus University Hospital says the heart can resist damage if deprived of oxygen for short periods of time. This effect can be reproduced by depriving the arm of oxygen. “Stopping blood flow to the arm suggests to the heart that there is something wrong and that seems to cause some extra protection.”

The procedure is also useful if applied shortly before heart surgery because it protects the heart muscle from damage and can make for a chef and effective technique. “More research is now needed to find out if this treatment results in better recovery and ongoing clinical benefit” said Fotina Rozakeas, cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation.

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