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Adrenaline Weak in Heart Attack Rescue

In movies and TV shows, patients who experience seemingly fatal heart attacks are often resuscitated with a shot of adrenaline. Perhaps the most famous of these was in the movie Pulp Fiction when John Travolta plunges a needle into the chest of Uma Thurman and she revives miraculously. It may not work so well in real life.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports on the use of adrenaline for reviving patients with cardiac arrest outside the hospital. The research was carried out in Japan between 2005 and 2008. Roughly 15,000 patients received adrenaline administered by emergency medical personnel compared to 23,000 who did not.
Although the drug did seem to provide initial benefit in resuscitating patients before they reached the hospital, long term benefits were less obvious. Those who received adrenaline were less likely to survive a month later and had more neurological damage. The Japanese researchers suggest that emergency adrenaline may save the heart but not the brain.
[JAMA, March 21, 2012]

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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