Whatcom County paramedics played key role in study on new treatment of heart attacks

Bellingham was one of 13 communities nationwide that participated in a national study supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute testing a glucose-insulin-potassium solution to help patients experiencing chest pains.

While researchers found the intravenous administering of the solution to patients within the first hour of them reporting symptoms did not prevent heart attacks, the results did show the size of the heart attack was smaller and there were fewer cardiac arrests or deaths when patients received the solution versus the placebo.

Patients receiving the solution lost only 2 percent of their heart muscle due to heart attacks, compared with those receiving placebos losing 10 percent, according to the study.

Researchers also found a 50 percent reduction in cases of cardiac arrest or death when patients were injected with the solution.

The cost of each treatment was around $50.

Under the direction of Dr. Marvin Wayne of PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center and Janice Lapsansky of Whatcom County Emergency Medical Services, people who called 911 with symptoms of a heart attack from 2008 through July 2011 were evaluated by paramedics for enrollment in the study.

“Whatcom County EMS personnel were a key part of the study that has demonstrated that the severity of heart attacks can be reduced by the early administration of a simple solution of glucose-insulin-potassium.” said Dr. Wayne, in an April 10 press release. “Hundreds of thousands of patients across the nation die from heart attacks each year. Our community was part of an important investigation that yielded promising results for patients locally and across the country. Patients who were involved with the study are invited to contact me if they’d like more information about the results.”

The findings of the study were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting in Chicago on March 27.

The study was conducted out of the Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Mass., under the direction of Dr. Harry P. Selker, principal investigator and executive director of the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts, and Joni Beshansky, a registered nurse and co-principal investigator and project director.

“Acute coronary syndromes represent the largest cause of death in this country,” Selker said. “[The solution] is a very inexpensive treatment that appears to have promise.”

The study’s results were also published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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