Pathologic cellular changes that begin with ischemia may be worsened when an occluded artery is recannulized. Thrombolytic agents—the standard treatment in acute MI—may contribute to these cellular events, collectively termed “reperfusion injury.” Highly toxic chemical moieties called oxygen free radicals participate in the injury process. This article discusses the concepts of ischemia, reperfusion, and reperfusion injury and explains the role played by oxygen free radicals in the generation of reperfusion injury. Also described is the use of oxygen free radical scavengers to prevent this injury.
© 1989 Aspen Publishers, Inc.