‘Cooling’ victims of cardiac arrest helps protect brain function

Victims of cardiac arrest are more likely to recover with good brain function if they’re subject to “cooling” after resuscitation, UPI.com reported via HealthDay News Oct. 2.

Cooling—or therapeutic hypothermia—has historically been used in coma patients with a shockable rhythm to protect brain function. It’s a common treatment in most hospitals, but until now it’s been unclear whether the approach could help patients with non-shockable rhythms.

This study involved 600 victims of cardiac arrest who had a non-shockable rhythm, meaning their heart either stopped and exhibited no electrical activity or exhibited electrical activity but lacked blood to pump through the heart. The patients were alive but in a coma when they arrived at the hospital, and half received medical cooling for 24 hours while the other half underwent standard care.

Patients whose bodies were cooled to 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit were nearly twice as likely as their counterparts to have good brain function when the study wrapped.

“This study showed a very positive effect from this very simple, straightforward approach to therapeutic hypothermia,” John Osborne, director of cardiology at State of the Heart Cardiology in Dallas, said. Osborne wasn’t involved in the study. “Half of those who survived had a pretty good neurological outcome, and that’s a big advance.”

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