September 8, 2017 – No Oxygen Needed


Anchor lead: Many people who’ve had a heart attack don’t need supplemental oxygen, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Everyone who comes to the hospital with a heart attack is routinely given oxygen, but now that practice has come into question with the results of a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Michael Blaha, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins, interprets the findings.

Blaha: It was recently shown that adding supplemental oxygen in people who don’t have low oxygen levels does not reduce the risk of death and does not reduce the risk of heart attack. This is potentially extremely important because virtually everyone who comes into the hospital with a heart attack gets supplemental oxygen. And we’re probably using oxygen with absolutely no benefit in these patients. So we might be able to roll back the recommendations that have existed for centuries really based on expert opinion that all patients need oxygen.  :29

Blaha notes that this study was done in Sweden, and looked at one-year outcomes relative to oxygen use in people who did not have low levels, in spite of just having had a heart attack. He says measuring oxygen levels and then deciding whether supplemental oxygen is needed seems practical. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.