What is reperfusion injury, and how might it be prevented?

Updated: May 07, 2019
  • Author: A Maziar Zafari, MD, PhD, FACC, FAHA; Chief Editor: Eric H Yang, MD  more...
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Answer

In some occasions, restoration of blood flow to the damaged myocardium triggers further ischemic cellular damage, this paradoxical effect is known as reperfusion injury. This process involves a complex interaction between oxygen free radicals and intracellular calcium, leading to acceleration of myocardial damage and death, microvascular dysfunction and fatal arrhythmias. The role of nitric oxide (an endothelium-derived relaxing factor) as a cardioprotective agent against reperfusion injury, has been demonstrated, as nitric oxide works to inactivate oxygen free radicals, therefore, ameliorating the process of reperfusion injury. [12] Despite the improved understanding of the process of reperfusion injury, there are no specific therapies to prevent it.


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