Chemical Found in Medical Devices Linked to Heart Problems

Johns Hopkins researchers have just discovered that a common chemical used to produce plastic <"">medical devices impairs heart function in rats. Science Daily reported that researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said that the chemical can be found in intravenous (IV) bags and catheters. The findings appear online in the American Journal of Physiology.

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According to Science Daily, the research points to some common side effects following medical procedures that involve blood circulation that occurs through plastic tubing, such as occurs during kidney dialysis procedures and heart bypass surgery. Some of the side effects cited include loss of taste, short-term memory loss, swelling (edema), and fatigue. The research also suggests that the findings present some significant issues for medical plastics manufacturing, said Science Daily.

HealthDay News explained that the chemical, cyclohexanone, is used in the manufacture of IV bags and extracorporeal circulation equipment, or circulation equipment used outside of the body. The chemical, said HealthDay News can leach from the plastic and into the fluids, causing adverse physical reactions. Caitlin S. Thompson-Torgerson, Ph.D., and colleagues looked at the reactions and found that cyclohexanone was present in the fluid samples pulled at were recorded at level that ranged from 9.63 to 3,694 micrograms per liter.

In lab tests, those rats who were treated with cyclohexanone “developed edema and impaired cardiovascular function, including impaired baroflex function; systemic hypotension; pulmonary hypertension; depressed contractility, heart rate, stroke volume, and cardiac output; and increased vascular resistance,” explained HealthDay News. In addition to these cardiovascular events and reactions, following cyclohexanone injections, the rats were also found to pump blood more slowly; experienced significantly weaker heart contractions, exhibiting a reduction of about 50 percent; had a less sensitive reflex in blood pressure maintenance and control; and suffered from increased fluid retention and swelling, said Science Daily.

According to the researchers, “Cyclohexanone can reproduce clinical cardiovascular, neurological, and edema morbidities associated with extracorporeal circulatory treatment,” Thompson-Torgerson and colleagues concluded, quoted HealthDay News. While the side effects ultimately resolve, said Science Daily, they can take months to dissipate and can delay recovery.

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eMaxHealth noted that the loss of memory and/or taste phenomena that can occur following bypass surgery has baffled experts, but that cyclohexanone found in plastic hospital tubing, might finally offer an explanation. Science Daily said that research lead Artin Shoukas, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering, physiology, and anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins said that it was his experience with coronary bypass surgery that prompted him to investigate the phenomenon. “I’m a chocoholic, and after my bypass surgery everything tasted awful, and chocolate tasted like charcoal for months,” said Shoukas, quoted Science Daily.

The researchers said that the cyclohexanone amounts varied, but were present in all of the liquid samples, reported eMaxHealth, adding that the team continues to work on reducing those cyclohexanone effects that may lead to taste and memory loss, and decreased heart function in patients exposed to the chemical.

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