Oxygen therapy for acute myocardial infarction-then and now. A century of uncertainty

Richard Kones
American Journal of Medicine 2011, 124 (11): 1000-5
For about 100 years, inhaled oxygen has been administered to all patients suspected of having an acute myocardial infarction. The basis for this practice was the belief that oxygen supplementation raised often-deficient arterial oxygen content to improve myocardial oxygenation, thereby reducing infarct size. This assumption is conditional and not evidence-based. While such physiological changes may pertain in some patients who are hypoxemic, considerable data suggest that oxygen therapy may be detrimental in others. Acute oxygen therapy may raise blood pressure and lower cardiac index, heart rate, cardiac oxygen consumption, and blood flow in the cerebral and renal beds. Oxygen also may lower capillary density and redistribute blood in the microcirculation. Several reports now confirm that these changes occur in humans. In patients with both acute coronary syndromes and stable coronary disease, oxygen administration may constrict the coronary vessels, lower myocardial oxygen delivery, and may actually worsen ischemia. There are no large, contemporary, randomized studies that examine clinical outcomes after this intervention. Hence, this long-accepted but potentially harmful tradition urgently needs reevaluation. Clinical guidelines appear to be changing, favoring use of oxygen only in hypoxemic patients, and then cautiously titrating to individual oxygen tensions.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"