About 300,000 people in the U.S. suffer cardiac arrest each year. Fewer than 10 percent of those victims survive when it occurs outside a hospital, and of those, only a minority recover sufficient brain function to return their lives to normal.
A new study by the Minneapolis Heart Institute shows evidence that using a treatment to effectively cool a patient's body temperature by eight degrees can greatly increase a patient’s survival and brain function.
The process, used at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, is called therapeutic hypothermia.
Last year, Allen Fields was running the La Jolla Half Marathon when his heart stopped beating. He, for a number of reasons, calls it his “lucky day.”
Doctors happened to be running behind him in the marathon and were able to resuscitate him with CPR. Field was shocked with a defibrillator and then transferred to Scripps Hospital. He was fortunate enough to be immediately treated with cooling blankets on his body, and doctors were able to prevent brain damage.
Shawn Evans, M.D. at Scripps Memorial Hospital, said the study shows “about 5 percent of cardiac arrest victims walk out of the hospital, and of those, those who had good cognitive outcome did great.”
Patients who underwent rapid cooling were extremely likely to recover with all their abilities to live normal lives. He also noted that an even newer treatment inserts a catheter directly into a blood vessel to more precisely cool a patient’s body.