Background: Methaemoglobinaemia refers to the oxidation of ferrous iron to ferric iron within the haemoglobin molecule, which occurs following oxidative stresses. The subsequent impairment in oxygen transport may lead to progressive hypoxia that is highly dangerous condition especially in borderline patients like the cardiac patient.
Objectives: In the present work, authors explore the extent of methaemoglobinaemia in cardiac patients receiving nitrate therapy.
Methodology: The study included 970 cardiac patients presented in cardiology department, Mansoura Specialised Medical Hospital, Egypt, in the period from February to July 2009. Patients were taking oral, sublingual, dermal preparation or a combination of two preparations.
Results: cases of the study had methemoglobin level 1.1782 ± 0.3476 g/dL with insignificant difference between males and females. Methemoglobin showed positive correlation with carboxyhemogloin and negative correlation with O2 content and O2 saturation. It was significantly higher in cardiac patient with chest infection, anaemia and diabetic patients but didn't differ in hepatic or non hepatic cardiac patients. 3.2% of cardiac patients who receive more than one nitrate preparation (either oral and dermal or oral and sublingual therapy) have methemoglobin level significantly higher than those who receive single preparation. There is significant difference in methemoglobin level in cardiac patients complaining of myocardial infarction “MI”, unstable Angina, atrial fibrillation “AF” and hypertensive heart disease “HTN”.
Conclusions: It is concluded that commonly used dosages of nitrates are capable of causing elevations of methemoglobin ranged from 0.9 – 5.3 g/dl. Although the elevation in methaemoglobin (MetHb) levels was not of routine clinical significance, there was statistically significant increase in MetHb levels in cardiac patients with another pathologic condition as anaemia, diabetes mellitus or chest infections. Also, it was significantly higher in patients receiving more than one nitrate therapy in combination.