Repairing the Heart

We all need oxygen to survive. Now doctors are using it in a new way to heal the heart after an attack, and it may even stop irreversible damage.

When 51-year-old Mike had a heart attack two years ago, one of the main arteries to his heart was blocked in two places.

“The pain was incredible,” says Mike.

The blockage robbed his heart of oxygen and put him at risk for permanent damage.

“Mr. Vogel came into the hospital suffering a massive heart attack, and it involves the whole front portion of the heart,” says William, the cardiologist.

During the emergency procedure to open the blockage, Dr. performed an experimental procedure. He injected liquid oxygen into Mike’s heart muscle.

“Very high concentrations of oxygen, for reasons that we don’t totally understand yet, really dramatically enhance the ability of tissue to heal,” says Dr. “That was really one of the reasons that prompted us to try to look at this as a method of healing heart damage after heart attacks.”

In a study of 29 patients, doctors say they have seen dramatic and rapid improvement in the heart function.

“So far this is really the first treatment that we’ve found that is that effective in improving the heart muscle function after the patients have been treated with angioplasty,” says Dr.

The oxygen infusion lasts about 90 minutes, and so far, the study has shown no risks or side effects.

“Since then life has been beautiful,” says Mike. “I was fortunate enough to be there. If I had been somewhere else, maybe I wouldn’t be here.”

If the liquid oxygen therapy is approved, eligible candidates would include anyone having emergency angioplasty.

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