'Trauma injection' may save lives of accident victims if given immediately after injury: Study
A drug that is used to treat heavy periods may come to the rescue of accident victims. If the mediation -- tranexamic acid (TXA) -- is given promptly to people at the site of injury, it can prevent excess loss of blood, thereby saving their lives, the researches have found.
Tranexamic acid or TXA prevents loss of blood by helping clots form. It comes in the form of tablets, liquid, mouthwash or injections. The medication is most effective when administered immediately after an injury. Every 15 minutes of treatment delay reduces its lifesaving potential by 10%, experts from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found. What is more, the drug can be injected intramuscularly, like the flu jab.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), road traffic crashes are a leading cause of death in the US for people aged between 1 and 54. Each year, 1.35 million people are killed on roadways around the world, the estimates suggest. More than 90% of trauma deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and up to 80% of fatalities are recorded before patients reach a hospital
Tranexamic acid is the only proven lifesaving treatment but is not given soon enough. "A rapid intramuscular injection given by first responders or paramedics could mean the difference between life and death," Dr Ian Robert, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a statement. "Intramuscular TXA is like a vaccine against trauma death," he added.
A previous study by the group found that a prompt administration of the drug can cut deaths by a third. In this research, the team evaluated how patients tolerated the intramuscular injection of Tranexamic acid.
The study enrolled 30 bleeding trauma patients admitted into two UK trauma hospitals. The first dose of TXA was given intravenously, as per guidelines, but the second dose was intramuscular. The team then collected blood samples, monitored injection sites and measured TXA levels.
The team found that intramuscular TXA is well-tolerated, except for mild reactions like some redness and transient swelling at the site of injection. Further, TXA was rapidly absorbed from muscle reaching the levels needed to save lives within 15 minutes even in the sickest patients, the press statement read.
It’s most effective when given within an hour of injury. "It takes time for the ambulance to arrive, time for paramedics to orientate themselves to what’s going on. It takes a little time to put in an intravenous line — sometimes they just say, well, let’s leave that for the hospital," Dr Roberts told the Times. "This way, you can just inject it intramuscularly and forget about it," he added.
“The fact TXA can be given by intramuscular injection could be a game-changer for increasing the survival chances of trauma victims," Dr Ian Roberts said. Lay first responders or police officers can administer the drug via a simple auto-injector device before the ambulance arrives and save lives. "It could also be used by wounded soldiers either on themselves or a buddy," he added.
The study is published in the journal British Journal of Anaesthesia.