The effect of anaesthetics on the myocardium--new insights into myocardial protection

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A variety of laboratory and clinical studies clearly indicate that exposure to anaesthetic agents can lead to a pronounced protection of the myocardium against ischaemia-reperfusion injury. Several changes in the protein structure of the myocardium that may mediate this cardioprotection have been identified. Ischaemia-reperfusion of the heart occurs in a variety of clinical situations including transplantations, coronary artery bypass grafting or vascular surgery. Ischaemia may also occur during a stressful anaesthetic induction. Early restoration of arterial blood flow and measures to improve the ischaemic tolerance of the tissue are the main therapeutic options (i.e. cardioplegia and betablockers). There exists increasing evidence that anaesthetic agents interact with the mechanisms of ischaemia-reperfusion injury and protect the myocardium by a 'preconditioning' and a 'postconditioning' mechanism. Hence, the anaesthesiologist may substantially influence the critical situation of ischaemia-reperfusion during surgery by choosing the appropriate anaesthetic agent. This review summarizes the current understanding of the mechanisms of anaesthetic-induced myocardial protection. In this context, three time windows of anaesthetic-induced cardioprotection are discussed: administration (1) during ischaemia, (2) after ischaemia-during reperfusion (postconditioning) and (3) before ischaemia (preconditioning). Possible clinical implications of these interventions will be reviewed
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-657
JournalEuropean journal of anaesthesiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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