Cooling Brain Improves Cardiac Arrest Outcomes

'Controlled hypothermia' limits the damage when blood supply dwindles, study finds

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THURSDAY, May 18, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Cooling the body and brain in a controlled way can help prevent neurological damage and improve survival after a person suffers cardiac arrest, a U.S. study finds.

Cardiac arrest results in reduced blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which can cause severe brain injury. Previous studies in Europe and Australia suggested that cooling -- controlled hypothermia -- can reduce neurological damage and the risk of death.

This new study from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond is the first in North America to report on the clinical use of hypothermia as a post-cardiac arrest therapy. It confirmed the benefits of the treatment.

The study found an 80 percent survival rate among 15 cardiac arrest patients who received the hypothermia treatment, compared to a 40 percent survival rate for patients who were treated before hypothermia therapy was available.

A higher percentage of patients who received hypothermia treatment recovered with intact neurological function using the Cerebral Performance Category assessment, the researchers reported. On another standard measure, the Overall Performance Category assessment, researchers found no difference between the two groups of patients.

"Data from our clinical program offers further evidence that hypothermia post-resuscitation is effective in reducing mortality and preserving cerebral function. It is hoped this will encourage other centers to consider adopting hypothermia protocols in their ICUs," researcher Dr. Marcus Ong said in a prepared statement.

His team was expected to present the findings Sunday at the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, in San Francisco.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about hypothermia after cardiac arrest.

SOURCE: Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, news release, May 18, 2006

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