Hypothermia keeping cardiac patients alive

By: Stacy McCloud Email
By: Stacy McCloud Email

Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops. If after CPR a patient makes it to the hospital with a pulse, they have a 30-percent chance of survival. But doctor Tyler Vadeboncoedur says those chances are much better if patients are put into an induced state of hypothermia, "We can increase that survival rate to fifty percent."

Cooling can be started early by paramedics in the field. At the hospital it's typically induced by an infusion of cold saline.
"We bring the patient's temperature down to 33 degrees," says Vandeboncoedur.

Doctrs say they can use one of several methods to keep the body cool. Possible ways to do that include using a vascular device where you put a catheter into the groin and there would be a cooling instrument that would keep the circulating blood cool.
Another would be to pack the patient in ice bags and another method utilizes external cooling pads placed on the body. "Cold saline will be infused into this tubing to the pad and this will cool the cardiac arrest patient down, " describes Vadeboncoedur.

There are a few major theories as to how hypothermia benefits cardiac arrest patients. Ones is that hypothermia decreases inflammation in the brain. The other is the hypothermia slows your metabolism so the body doesn't need as much oxygen-rich blood flowing to the brain.

Dr. Vadeboncoeur says once the body is cool, it's important to keep it cool anywhere from 12 to 24 hours or mor. "Ifyou don't administer hypothermia, often times these patients will become hypothermic - they will get too hot, which has adverse affects."

For more information visit http://www.mayoclinic.org


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