DALLAS, Nov. 24 -- A simple and inexpensive treatment for heart attacks -- originally developed in the early 1960s and now largely abandoned -- appears now to have significant life-saving powers, according to a new study.
A trial in six Latin American countries provides new evidence supporting the use of a combination of glucose, insulin, and potassium (GIK) in people suffering heart attacks, researchers report in today's Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. K is the chemical symbol for potassium.
In the pilot trial involving 407 people suffering a heart attack, patients treated with the GIK combination within 24 hours after symptoms had an overall death rate of about half that of people who did not get GIK.
"The decrease in the death rate is dramatic; the largest reduction of just about any intervention that's been tried," says Carl S. Apstein, M.D., whose editorial on the study appears in today's Circulation. He is professor of medicine and director of the Cardiac Muscle Research Laboratory at Boston University's School of Medicine. "The mechanism of efficacy is also completely different, in that it alters heart muscle metabolism and biochemistry to protect the region of the heart deprived of oxygen by a heart attack."
The 407 people in the trial included 252 individuals treated with either a clot-dissolving drug or a balloon-tipped catheter inserted into the vessels to open clogged blood vessels. People who received GIK infusions had a death rate of 6.7 percent versus an 11.5 percent death rate among those who did not get the combination. However, among the 252 people who received therapy to open clogged blood vessels, the mortality rate was 5.2 percent in the GIK-treated group, compared to 15.2 percent in those who did not receive GIK.
Patients were randomized to one of three groups: high-dose or low-dose
GIK, or no GIK. There were no significant differences in results or adverse
Contact: Brian Henry
American Heart Association