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UVA Researcher Seeks To Improve Outcomes On The Battlefield And In The Operating Room

A University of Virginia researcher says exercise and a new drug now under study, could dramatically increase the time blood flow can be cut off, without damaging organs and tissues downstream.

It happens often on the battlefield. A soldier far from help gets a tourniquet. “Sometimes we have to block circulation to save lives.” UVA’s Zhen Yan says if the blood flow is not restored after 90 minutes, tissues downstream begin to die.

But he and his team at the Cardiovascular Research Center have discovered that exercise and an experimental drug are improving the odds. “This is very important because the outcome of the patient who suffers from ischemia reperfusion could be significantly reduced.”

It happens not only on the battlefield, but also in operating rooms. “Surgeons want to have a clean surface area, so they can see the tissues, see the organs and not make a mistake.”

But time is critical. His work on mice shows less nerve and muscle damage, and speedier recovery with prior exercise and the new drug.

But he is hopeful it could someday improve outcomes in the operating room and in the field.

His work is supported by grants from the NIH and the American Heart Association and have been published in the Journal of Applied Physiology .

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