-- Randy Dotinga
THURSDAY, Oct. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Technology that directly
oxygenates the blood reduced the risk of death in patients who were
severely sickened by the H1N1 flu virus, a new British study
The researchers cautioned that their study had limitations, and
they noted that debate continues about the use of the technology,
which is expensive.
At issue is a treatment called extracorporeal membrane
oxygenation, which oxygenates the blood. It's used to treat people
with severe respiratory conditions that prevent their lungs from
getting enough oxygen to the blood on their own.
The researchers looked at patients who developed severe
respiratory problems due to the H1N1 virus, also known as swine
flu, in the United Kingdom during the winter of 2009-2010.
The study was published online Oct. 5 in the
Journal of the American Medical Association and presented at
the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine meeting in
While some have said fears about the flu epidemic were
exaggerated, certain people who got infected became very ill, said
Dr. Marc Siegel, an internist and clinical associate professor at
New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City.
Sixty-nine patients received the oxygenation treatment, and 22
The researchers compared those who got the treatment to similar
patients who didn't. Those who received the treatment were roughly
half as likely to die as those who didn't.
The study authors acknowledged in a journal news release that
factors other than the treatment might explain why patients who got
it did so much better.
"The unanswered question here: Who is it worth it for? Who's it useful for?" said Siegel. He believes the treatment could be appropriate for high-risk patients such as those with compromised immune systems and other health problems.
For more about the
H1N1 flu virus, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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