Time to Give Up on Cardioprotection?
The mortality from acute myocardial infarction (AMI) remains significant, and the prevalence of post-myocardial infarction heart failure is increasing. Therefore, cardioprotection beyond timely reperfusion is needed. Conditioning procedures are the most powerful cardioprotective interventions in animal experiments. However, ischemic preconditioning cannot be used to reduce infarct size in patients with AMI because its occurrence is not predictable; several studies in patients undergoing surgical coronary revascularization report reduced release of creatine kinase and troponin. Ischemic postconditioning reduces infarct size in most, but not all, studies in patients undergoing interventional reperfusion of AMI, but may require direct stenting and exclusion of patients with >6 hours of symptom onset to protect. Remote ischemic conditioning reduces infarct size in patients undergoing interventional reperfusion of AMI, elective percutaneous or surgical coronary revascularization, and other cardiovascular surgery in many, but not in all, studies. Adequate dose-finding phase II studies do not exist. There are only 2 phase III trials, both on remote ischemic conditioning in patients undergoing cardiovascular surgery, both with neutral results in terms of infarct size and clinical outcome, but also both with major problems in trial design. We discuss the difficulties in translation of cardioprotection from animal experiments and proof-of-concept trials to clinical practice. Given that most studies on ischemic postconditioning and all studies on remote ischemic preconditioning in patients with AMI reported reduced infarct size, it would be premature to give up on cardioprotection.
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