To give or not to give Oxygen
In case of an emergency and if in any doubt, give the patient oxygen. This first aid manoeuvre is also part of a knee-jerk when attending to an acute cerebrovascular accident. To protect brain tissue from hypoxia with continuous oxygen during the acute phase of a cerebrovascular accident seems to be a good idea. That was the motivation behind the SOS study in the UK, an extensive randomised control study conducted in acute stroke units all over the country for ten years. Most doctors who worked on an acute stroke unit over the last 10 years probably remember this study which managed to recruit over 8000 patients.
The Outcomes of the SOS study
The results are out and show that there is no benefit in giving every stroke patient routine low dose Oxygen (2 to 3 L/min), either continuously or at night time, in the first few days after the event.
A similar outcome was recently seen in a large US study, where benefits of routine oxygen administration in patients with an acute myocardial infarct failed to materialise.
Providing that oxygen saturations are continuously monitored, less routine Oxygen during an acute event can only be a good thing. For the simple reason that it will alert healthcare workers of an occurring acute hypoxia more quickly and could provide life-saving time for diagnosis and treatment thereof.