More than three dozen heart patients in KELOLAND took part in a national study to help determine how important it is for your heart to get help before you even arrive at the hospital.
Rural/Metro paramedics in Sioux Falls enrolled 37 heart patients into a national study over a two-year period.
"A patient who’s having a heart attack, part of his heart isn't getting enough oxygen. So those heart muscle cells are stressed," Rural/Metro paramedic Mike Deitschman said.
When paramedics identified a patient with heart attack symptoms, and after getting their consent, they started an IV with a special solution.
"The idea here is that we drive glucose into the cells and we need the insulin and potassium to make that happen," Deitschman said.
The drugs used in the study have been around for decades. The two significant things about this study are the combination of glucose, insulin and potassium and the fact that it was started in the ambulance.
"If we can drive some glucose into that cell when it’s at its time of greatest need and getting the least of what it needs, that will help reduce the damage, that it’s getting this extra sugar at this time," Deitschman said.
The study found the solution didn't prevent heart attacks from happening, but when it was given to patients on the scene by paramedics, it minimized the severity of the heart attack, resulting in fewer cardiac arrests and deaths.
The national study found patients receiving the glucose solution suffered only a two percent heart muscle loss during their heart attack, compared to 10 percent in those receiving a placebo. Four percent of patients receiving the study drug still went into cardiac arrest or died versus nine percent receiving a placebo. That's more than a 50 percent reduction.
Rural/Metro paramedics worked in coordination with doctors from AveraMcKennan, the Avera Heart Hospital and Sanford USD Medical Center for the study.