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Emergency Personnel at The Medical Center of Central Georgia Helped Advance Understanding of Treatment for Patients Experiencing Heart Attack-Related Symptoms

Emergency Personnel at The Medical Center of Central Georgia Helped Advance Understanding of Treatment for Patients Experiencing Heart Attack-Related Symptoms 

MACON, Ga. (April 17, 2012) – Macon was one of 13 communities nationwide that recently participated in an innovative national study supported by the National Institute of Health's (NIH) National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute involving a glucose-insulin-potassium (GIK) solution for patients experiencing symptoms such as chest pains. 

According to a study appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers found that the intravenous medication of patients with GIK within the first hour did not prevent the heart attack from happening. But other promising results showed that the size of the heart attack was smaller and there were fewer cardiac arrests or deaths when the patients received the GIK solution versus the placebo.

Under the local direction Delanor Doyle, M.D., Chief Medical Information Officer and Assistant Vice President of Medical Affairs at The Medical Center of Central Georgia (MCCG), and Kelly Joiner of MCCG EMS, with involvement of local paramedics, people who called 911 with symptoms of a heart attack from 2008 through July 2011 were evaluated for enrollment in the study.  

“The Medical Center of Georgia 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,” Dr. Doyle said. “Hundreds of thousands of patients across the nation die from heart attacks each year. Our community was part of an important investigation that 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 study included MCCG EMS and 35 other EMS agencies around the country that together enrolled 911 patients. As part of the process to launch the study, each community had to agree to participate. On average, 200 residents were polled in each of the 13 participating communities across the nation and agreed that participation in the study was positive for their community.   

The study found that compared to 10 percent of the heart muscle being lost to heart attack in the placebo group, in those receiving GIK, only two percent was lost. Also, compared to nine percent of patients with placebo having cardiac arrest or dying, in the GIK group, four percent had cardiac arrest or died – a reduction of more than 50 percent. For the group of patients who presented with “ST-elevation heart attacks,” those who need immediate intervention, the placebo group had heart attacks that consume 12 percent of the heart muscle, versus three percent in those who got GIK. And in this group, cardiac arrest or mortality occurred in 14 percent among those receiving placebo, versus four percent in those getting GIK. The GIK treatment was administered in the ambulance and continued during the hospitalization for 12 hours. The cost of the treatment is only about $50.

The findings of the study were presented at the American College of Cardiology's annual meeting in Chicago on March 27, 2012, and were simultaneously published online in JAMA. This national study was led by 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 MC, and Joni Beshansky, RN, MPH, co-principal investigator and project director. 

“When started immediately in the home or on the way to the hospital – even before the diagnosis is completely established – GIK appears to reduce the size of heart attacks and to reduce by half the risk of having a cardiac arrest or dying,” Dr. Selker said. “Acute coronary syndromes represent the largest cause of death in this country. GIK is a very inexpensive treatment that appears to have promise.”