Chemical in Medical Plastics Hard on Heart

Reported May 6, 2009

Chemical in Medical Plastics Hard on the Heart

A chemical found in IV bags and catheters might be putting patients’ hearts at risk.

New research out of Johns Hopkins finds this chemical – called cyclohexanone – may be leaching out of the plastics used to make these devices and ending up in the fluids meant to help people get better when they are in the hospital. In a study involving rats, the chemical resulted in a slower pumping of less blood, weaker heart contractions, and increased fluid retention and swelling.

The symptoms seen in the rats are the same as those often seen in patients following heart bypass surgery. Other symptoms include loss of taste and memory, which might also be linked to the chemical.

In fact, the research itself was spurred by a physician who himself had some of these symptoms following his own bypass operation. “I’m a chocoholic, and after my bypass surgery everything tasted awful, and chocolate tasted like charcoal for months,” lead author Artin Shoukas, Ph.D., was quoted as saying.

He stops far short, however, of suggesting people forego bypass surgery to avoid these symptoms. “On the contrary, such technologies are life-saving medical advances, and their benefits still far outweigh the risks of the associated side effects. As scientists, we are simply trying to understand how the side effects are triggered and what the best method will be to mitigate, and ultimately remedy, these morbidities.”

SOURCE: American Journal of Physiology, published online May 1, 2009

Our source: Ivanhoe Newswire

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