Emergency care trial part of new strategy to save lives of heart attack victims

DALLAS — April 12, 2007 — UT Southwestern Medical Center and several area communities are involved in a research study testing whether or not a new intravenous solution can reduce heart attack complications and death.

Some patients will receive the research solution — a mixture of glucose, insulin and potassium — when they are treated by paramedics at the site of the heart attack or in the ambulance. 

The IMMEDIATE (Immediate Myocardial Metabolic Enhancement During Initial Assessment and Treatment in Emergency Care) Trial in Texas begins on April 12 in the Plano area. Research will also be conducted in Wisconsin and Massachusetts. Enrollment in the Dallas area will last about two years. In all, 15,450 patients will be enrolled.

Dr. James Atkins, professor of internal medicine and emergency medicine and director of the Emergency Medicine Education Program at UT Southwestern, is the principal investigator for Texas.

“When you’re having a heart attack, time is very critical,” said Dr. Atkins. “The faster you act, the more heart muscle can be saved and the lower the death rate.”

During on-site care or transportation, patients 30 years of age and older with symptoms of a threatened or established heart attack will be told of the IMMEDIATE study and, if they agree to participate, will receive either a standard intravenous solution of glucose and water or a solution of glucose, insulin and potassium, also known as GIK. Informed consent will be obtained as soon as feasible after arrival at the emergency department.

Each enrolled patient will be randomly assigned the GIK solution, the effectiveness of which is being tested, or the standard solution, which patients now receive. Neither the patient nor the EMS staff will know which solution is administered.

Once the patient arrives at the hospital, emergency department physicians at Medical Center of Plano, Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano, The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano and Richardson Regional Medical Center will confirm the diagnosis and continue the administration of the standard glucose and water solution or the GIK solution for 12 hours, with follow-up phone consultations planned at three, six and 12 months.

“We’re very interested in studying strategies that slow down death of muscle and widen the window that we can treat the patient,” said Dr. Atkins.

A heart attack occurs when a clot blocks blood flow in the coronary arteries to the heart muscle. Immediate GIK treatment may potentially protect the heart muscle that is not receiving sufficient blood flow. Previous studies suggest that administering GIK during a heart attack may reduce irregular heartbeats and slow the progression and limit the scope of the heart attack.

This year, about 1.2 million Americans will have a first or recurrent heart attack and about 500,000 of them will die, according to the American Heart Association. Heart disease is the nation’s single leading cause of death.

The IMMEDIATE trial is funded by a $36 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. It is overseen by the Center for Cardiovascular Health Services Research at Tufts-New England Medical Center.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/heartlungvascular to learn more about
UT Southwestern’s clinical services in heart, lung and vascular.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern Medical Center, one of the premier medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. Its nearly 1,500 full-time faculty members — including four active Nobel Prize winners, more than any other medical school in the world — are responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and are committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to nearly 92,000 hospitalized patients and oversee 1.7 million outpatient visits a year.


Media Contact: Connie Piloto

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