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Cooling Body Helps Cut Heart Attack Damage

Researchers trying catheter device to lower body temperature of heart attack victims

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 4, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Catheter devices can quickly cool the bodies of heart attack victims from the inside out while they receive angioplasty, and this cooling may help reduce heart attack damage.

That's the claim of a study that appears in today's issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. It's the first to report the use of cooling in people with heart attacks. Previous research and experience suggests cooling may reduce heart damage caused by restricted blood flow to the heart muscle that occurs during a heart attack.

Researchers at nine centers in the United States, Germany and Australia cooled 20 heart attack patients by inserting heat-exchange balloon catheter devices into the patients' inferior vena cava.

Once a patient's body temperature was cooled to 33 degrees C (91.4 F) from the normal 37 degrees C (98.6 degrees F), doctors performed angioplasty, stenting or other conventional treatments that restore blood flow to the heart muscle.

The patients who received the cooling treatment were compared to a control group of 21 heart attack patients who didn't receive the cooling treatment.

The study says that scans indicated heart muscle scar tissue seemed smaller on average in the cooled patients than in the control group.

The trial design and small number of patients make it impossible to draw any definite conclusions about the effectiveness of this cooling. A larger trial is currently underway.

More information

Stanford University researchers are warm to cooling heart attack patients.

SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, news release, Dec. 3, 2002
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