A new study found that nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas can be used to anesthetize surgery patients, who are at risk of heart disease.
"The findings are welcome news because nitrous oxide is widely used around the world as part of the mixture of agents for general anesthesia," lead author Dr. Kate Leslie, a professor at Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia, said in an American Society of Anesthesiologists news release.
‘The study found that nitrous oxide is safe for surgery. The findings help alleviate concerns raised in recent years about the effect of nitrous oxide on the heart and vascular system’
"Nitrous oxide is inexpensive, simple to administer and helps with pain as well as anesthesia," she added.
The study involved almost 6,000 patients. All the patients had surgery that did not involve the heart. The participants of the study received either general anesthesia with nitrous oxide or general anesthesia with nitrogen.
The study found that a year after surgery, there was no difference in the rates of heart attack, stroke, disability or death between the two groups.
"This helps alleviate concerns raised in recent years about the effect of nitrous oxide on the heart and vascular system," said Leslie.
The study is published online in the journal Anesthesiology.