Although the treatment did not stop the heart attack from occurring, patients who received it were 50 percent less likely to go into full cardiac arrest, in which the heart suddenly stops beating, or to die, than those who received a placebo.
The study of 911 patients showed the treatment also reduced the severity of damage to heart tissue from the heart attack. In patients who received the mixture, 2 percent of heart tissue was destroyed, compared with 10 percent in those who received a placebo.
Researchers said the study was the first to test the effectiveness of administering the treatment at the first signs of a threatening heart attack, rather than waiting for a diagnosis to be confirmed at the hospital, which can take hours.
Although 23 percent of suspected heart attacks in the study turned out to be false alarms, the treatment did not appear to have any harmful effect on those patients, the researchers said.
The treatment costs about $50
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