In most patients with acute myocardial infarction arterial oxygen tension is reduced.1 Because of the shape of the oxygen dissociation curve the fall in oxygen saturation is probably insignificant. The practice of giving oxygen aims to correct this hypoxaemia2 so enhancing delivery of oxygen to the surrounding ischaemic area and limiting the final size of the infarct,3 preventing arrhythmias4 and relieving pain.5 Whether the inhalation of a high concentration of oxygen helps is not clear. Marginal benefits have been claimed after hyperbaric oxygen6 but this is expensive and not generally available.
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