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Mild Hypothermia Can Reduce Post-Ischemic Injury

Properly administered, mild hypothermia, along with fever control, can improve outcomes

FRIDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- Use of mild hypothermia following an ischemic injury appears to reduce permanent damage to tissue function if treatment is administered within hours of the event and, following treatment, the body is re-warmed slowly, researchers report in the June 7 issue of The Lancet.

Kees Polderman, M.D., Ph.D., of University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, undertook an extensive review of literature about hypothermia and fever management in relation to ischemic injury. Electronic databases and a government-sponsored registry of clinical trials were searched for articles.

Many studies of hypothermia's effect on post-anoxic brain injury have reported favorable outcomes. More randomized clinical trials are needed, however, to clarify its role in treating other ischemias in the brain (stroke), heart and kidneys, the author observed. A key challenge to broader adoption is limited knowledge of proper protocols: the review indicated that hypothermia is effective if administered within a short window following injury and, following treatment, the body is re-warmed slowly. In studies with negative results, these steps often were not followed.

"Use of mild hypothermia seems to be a major breakthrough in the treatment of neurological injuries," the author writes. "It is effective for post-ischemic injury after global anoxia and for lowering of intracranial pressure in various types of brain injury, and needs to be rigorously tested for traumatic brain injury, ischemic stroke, and thoracoabdominal aneurysm repair in which initial data seem highly promising."

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