By Fred Bodimer

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A local study finds that laughing gas does not increase heart attacks in surgery patients.

Nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas, is one of the oldest and most widely used anesthesia drugs in the world. Some, however, thought it might be dangerous to use in patients at high risk for heart attack because it causes levels of an amino acid called homocysteine to rise in the blood.

Nitrous oxide inactivates vitamin B12 and by doing so increases blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which some thought raised heart attack risk.

So Washington University anesthesiologist Peter Nagele, who led the Washington University School of Medicine study, gave some surgery patients intravenous B vitamins along with their laughing gas to see it would make a difference

“The patients who did get B vitamins did not have any difference in outcomes compared to patients who did not get B vitamins,” Nagele says.

He says it appears that when it comes to heart attack risk, elevated homocysteine is more of a bystander than a cause and that laughing gas can be ruled out as a contributor to heart attack risk.


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