While patients hospitalized for a heart attack have long been treated with morphine to relieve chest pain, an analysis by researchers from the Duke Clinical Research Institute has shown that these patients have almost a 50 percent higher risk of dying.
The researchers call for a randomized clinical trial to confirm their analysis. Meanwhile, they advise cardiologists to begin treatment with sufficient doses of nitroglycerin to relieve pain before resorting to morphine. In their analysis of the clinical data and outcomes of more than 57,000 high-risk heart attack patients -- 29.8 percent of whom received morphine within the first 24 hours of hospitalization -- the researchers found that those who received morphine had a 6.8 percent death rate, compared to 3.8 percent for those receiving nitroglycerin. The increase in mortality persisted even after adjustment for the patients baseline clinical risk.
The results of the Duke were published as a fast-track article in the American Heart Journal.
Richard Merritt | EurekAlert!
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