Thursday, October 19, 2006
Medical Reports: Shot Life
Every minute, somebody in the United States dies from a heart attack. But even if you do survive, most patients suffer significant damage. Now, as Seven's Richard Lemus shows us, it appears a common diabetic drug is giving people a new shot at life.
WSVN -- It's safe to say Jim Hultman enjoys spending dog days with his buddy Bud.
Jim Hultman: "Having a dog is a wonderful experience. He's the best."
But Bud almost lost Jim when he had a heart attack.
Jim Hultman: "My health history before the heart attack is like nothing."
After the heart attack, that's a different story.
Like most patients, Jim suffered irreversible damage to his heart muscle.
But unlike in the past, doctors may have a way of providing significant protection.
They have found standard drugs plus insulin gives a new shot at life.
Dr. Paresh Dandona: "Insulin is probably going to be more effective than all those drugs."
The insulin works because it reduces inflammation and increases blood flow.
However, it must be given within three hours after a heart attack.
Some studies show it even reduces the damage by as much as 50 percent.
Dr. Paresh Dandona: "There may be a substantial chunk of the heart muscle which is subject to potential injury that might be saved if you get there on time."
When Jim had his heart attack, he agreed to be part of a clinical trial.
Today, he still doesn't know if he received insulin or a placebo.
But he can do everything he did before the heart attack and then some.
Dr. Paresh Dandona: "Bud and I probably go four times a week for at least 30 minutes."
Not to mention he gets to spend more time with his best friend.
Doctors say the only risk of using insulin is low blood sugar levels, which are continuously monitored during infusions.