As a cardiologist or hospital administrator, your priority is to give your heart attack patients their best fighting chance — and now there may be a simple new way to do just that.

Researchers at Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, report that giving patients suffering from cardiac arrest symptoms a vitamin E dose may provide better procedure outcomes prior to vessel/stent surgery and may be beneficial to patients' overall outcomes if given before discharge after a procedure.

This is an inexpensive but potentially game-changing therapy that can easily be incorporated — let's take a closer look at how it may offer potential benefits.

Authors Maria Wallert, Melanie Ziegler, Xiaowei Wang, Ana Maluenda, Xiaoqiu Xu, May Lin Yap, Roman Witt, Corey Giles, Stefan Kluge, Marcus Hortmann, Jianxiang Zhang, Peter Meikle, Stefan Lorkowski, Karlheinz Peter report in the pre-clinical study, titled, "α-Tocopherol preserves cardiac function by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in ischemia/reperfusion injury"that intensive therapy with vitamin E may preserve permanent heart muscle damage before treatment and as a patient recovers after vessel reopening and stent insertion. A patient's heart function can then potentially remain as normal as possible.

Vitamin E has been tested in previous trials to see if it can stop heart attacks before they happen but has never been studied in terms of a post-cardiac event benefit. There isn't a drug therapy available at this time that can mitigate the effects of post-heart attack inflammation damage after a blocked artery has been treated, so this finding may be key in terms of giving patients better odds for recovery.

The researchers plan to next test the precise formulation of vitamin E that may be helpful on patients admitted to the hospital, then follow up with MRI studies to determine its effectiveness. At that point, they hope physicians will be able to apply their findings safely. For now, read their findings, and get informed as to how they could help your patients.

Keep in mind, however, that vitamin E has not been known to prevent cardiovascular disease as a whole, as this information from Harvard Medical School shows. It may not be safe for certain patients, specifically those with heart failure. The bottom line: educate yourself, then consider any therapy on an individual patient basis.