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Leading academics call for urgent research into the use of oxygen for heart attack sufferers

New research underlines the "shocking paucity" of evidence into the use of oxygen for patients with a suspected or confirmed heart attack.
by Ben

In 2010 leading academics, including Professor Amanda Burls from City's School of Health Sciences, published a paper that suggested oxygen therapy may be doing more harm than good for sufferers of a confirmed or suspected heart attack and called for funding for a comprehensive study into the effectiveness of this widespread practice.

New research conducted by academics from City University London, the University of Birmingham and the University of Surrey, together with colleagues in Spain, has found that little progress has been made to address the lack of available evidence.

Professor Amanda Burls, said: "Our first review in 2010 on this topic called for more research to find out whether oxygen was useful or harmful.

"While the review had a huge impact on practice, with many national and international guidelines changing from recommending routine use of oxygen to recommending it not be used routinely, funding to run a trial to settle this important uncertainty has not yet been forthcoming."

Professor Burls and her research team systematically searched for all high quality randomised controlled trials that compared the use oxygen and air and undertook a meta-analysis. They found only four trials of oxygen were available which had enrolled a total of just 430 participants.

The findings highlight the continued "shocking paucity" of the research behind this intervention that has been given to millions of people. Professor Burls, continued: "We believe that there is an urgent need for an adequately powered randomised controlled trial to establish the effectiveness of, or harm from, the administration of oxygen to people with an acute myocardial infarction."

The report has been published as a Cochrane Review.

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.