Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Should oxygen be given in myocardial infarction?

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 17 June 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c3287

Rapid Response:

oxygen is a drug, to be used only when indicated

Oxygen is a drug, whose sole indication is hypoxemia. All drugs are
used for specific indications, at specific doses for specific times, while
monitoring therapeutic response. No physician would suggest a hypoglycemic
agent prophylactically. Why do we, then, automatically prescribe oxygen in
acute MI, when pulse oximetry immediately provides information regarding
oxygenation status, when there is at least a potential theoretical and
actual risk of deleterious effects?
I suggest that the norm should be: measurement of arterial oxygen
saturation while the patient is breathing room air, and prescription of
the lowest oxygen concentration producing an acceptable saturation (e.g.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

24 June 2010
Pinchas Halpern
Chair of Emergency Medicine
Tel Aviv Medical Center, 6 Weitzman Street, Tel Aviv 64239, Israel