Researchers have discovered that administering supplements of an essential mineral nutrient required for sustaining the health of bodily tissues at the right time enhances recovery after a stroke or heart attack.
If selenide, a form of the essential nutrient selenium, is administered intravenously in the wake of the cardiac attack, damage to heart muscle can be reduced by nearly 90%, the findings showed.
"We found that administration of selenide after the heart has been deprived of blood flow and before blood flow is restored significantly protects the heart tissue in a mouse model of acute myocardial infarction and reperfusion injury," said Mark Roth, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, US.
The nutrient selenium is regarded as an essential element required for sustaining the health of bodily tissues such as heart muscle, and selenium deficiency is associated with heart disease.
Ischemia, or insufficient blood supply, as occurs during a heart attack or stroke, causes tissues to become starved of oxygen. Reperfusion injury is the tissue damage caused when blood supply returns to the tissue after a period of ischemia or lack of oxygen.
The researchers tested whether supplementing the body's naturally-occurring selenide with an infusion of selenide might protect tissues after a heart attack once blood flow is restored.
Using a mouse model of heart attack, Roth and colleagues administered selenide just prior to restoring blood flow and found that it reduced heart damage by 88%.
The findings appeared online in the journal Critical Care Medicine.