Oxygen supplementation in acute myocardial infarction

  • Supplying O2 might seem an obvious treatment for acute conditions in which O2 is of pathophysiological importance, like actual or impending myocardial infarction.
  • O2 was officially authorised as a medicine in 2006, without making it clear on what research evidence this was based.
  • Studies of O2 supplementation in acute situations have been scarce and have often found little or no clinical efficacy, whereas there was evidence of possible counterproductive or harmful effects.
  • The authors of a 2016 Cochrane review found no evidence for the efficacy of the routine use of O2 for patients with acute myocardial infarction, and could not exclude harmful effects.
  • Nor did a recent Swedish study (2017) find any evidence for benefits of O2 supplementation (6 L/min supplied through an open face mask) to patients with a suspected acute myocardial infarction and an O2 saturation rate of >90%, compared to  merely breathing the ambient air, assessed in terms of one-year mortality rates. 
  • The lack of evidence for efficacy and the risk of counterproductive or harmful effects are sufficient reasons to be reticent about O2 supplementation to patients with acute symptomatology in general, and suspected or confirmed myocardial infarction in particular.

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The literature refers tot the Dutch text


  • dr H.J.E.M. Janssens