Doctors from the University of Utah found that an anti-clotting drug used for treating strokes and heart attacks could be helpful in restoring the blood flow after frostbite.

Frostbite means frozen skin and it causes swelling, redness, tingling and burning and it may lead to infection and further to loss of extremities.
The University doctors tested a drug called tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA on a group of patients within 24 hours of injury. They were then compared to other 25 patients who did not receive the drug. Among those who received the drug, only 10% of those with frostbitten fingers or toes were removed while the percentage increased in the bigger group.

Since the drugs showed improvements in blood flow and reduced the rates of amputations with tPA administration within 24 hours, the doctors believe that they will continue to use the treatment within frostbite patients.

Candidates for the therapy are those people who show up with severe frostbite characterized by full-thickness tissue involvement, hemorrhagic blisters and abnormal perfusion on either angiogram or pyrophosphate scanning. Excluded will be those with superficial frostbite, involvement of the tips of the distal phalanges and contraindications totPA as well as concurrent trauma, neurological impairment or recent surgery or hemorrhage.