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UCSD Research On Medication That May Help Save More Heart Attack Victims

UC San Diego Health Sciences will conduct a study aimed a determining whether two antiarrythmia drugs could be used by emergency medical personnel to help save more heart attack victims.

The study will focus on the effectiveness of lidocaine and amiodarone in sudden heart attack victims.

"Only five percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims survive," said Dr. Daniel Davis, UC San Diego director of resuscitation science in the Department of Emergency Medicine. "For more than 30 years we've been looking for an antiarrhythmic drug to treat ventricular tachycardia, or what we call shockable rhythm, but we have not found a drug that consistently improves patient outcomes."

If one or both of the drugs proves effective, dozens of lives could be saved in San Diego every year, he said.

Paramedics are generally limited to using manual cardiopulmonary resuscitation or a defibrillator in trying to re-establish a normal heart rhythm, Davis said.

In the trial, paramedics will inject the drugs into patients whose hearts have stopped beating. If a family member is present, they will be informed of the study and can opt out, he said.

"A patient in cardiac arrest is not capable of communication, nor is it realistic to identify and contact family members in a timely fashion who can consent on their behalf," Davis said.

"When a patient is in critical need of rapid medical treatment, the priority is to provide treatment," he said. "Every second counts to save the heart and brain."

The trial is set to begin this spring, and last three to four years, according to UCSD Health Sciences.

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