NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Modern medicine has gotten pretty good at saving lives when heart attacks strike.
But, heart attack victims will still suffer from muscle damage which could eventually lead to heart failure and death.
Recently, a surprising way to minimize that damage has emerged, CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported.
Abdul Jabar has suffered numerous heart attacks and had a number of stents placed in his heart arteries. His heart was so damaged from those attacks that he was on the verge of heart failure.
“Actually gave up on me, stating that I am having heart failure and they were arranging to put me in hospice care,” he said.
Doctors said that the scenario is becoming increasingly common.
“They reach the hospital, the heart attack is there, but if the muscle that dies is significantly large the patient gets into cardiac failure and they eventually die because the pump fails,” Dr. Valentin Fuster, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, explained.
A new study led by Dr. Fuster in Spain has shown that there is a simple way to limit the amount of heart muscle damaged.
EMS techs in Spain gave heart attack patients an IV of a long approved beta blocker called Metoprolol and the results were dramatic.
“We decrease, by 20 to 25-percent, the size of the heart attack and the size of the muscle that dies. Therefore we expect that this will prevent mortality or deaths in these people,” Dr. Fuster explained.
Doctors used a special MRI heart scan to detect how much muscle head died.
“The normal muscle of the heart when it’s alive is this dark area right here. This bright area is very abnormal. This is a part of the infarct which is the part that died,” explained Dr. Javier Sanz.
Metoprolol has few side effects but should not be used by patients with very low blood pressure.
Doctors are now in the middle of a very large international study that could prove that in addition to reducing heart damage Metoprolol also prevents deaths.
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