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Therapeutic Hypothermia Offers Increased Survival Rates for Heart Attack Patients

Author Healthcare Career Blogger | 04.05.2010

 

Since the 1950’s, heart attack survival rates have been on the rise, thanks to new treatments and drug innovations. Among those new treatments is therapeutic hypothermia. Therapeutic hypothermia refers to a controlled cooling of the body, only a difference of about 4oC below normal body temperature, in order to protect the brain and body and prevent cerebral ischemia, which could lead to irreversible brain damage.

Therapeutic hypothermia has been studied since 1950, but it was hard to control the cooling using only ice and cooling blankets. Since then, cooling devices that include the circulation of cold water through cooling pads and through the patient’s veins have made it easier for physicians to regulate the body temperature. The therapy has become more widespread since 2002, following two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine showing significant survival and neurological outcomes in heart attack and stroke patients who had received the therapeutic hypothermic treatment. Therapeutic hypothermia has since been included in the American Heart Association Guidelines for CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Cooling devices can be found in a number of the country’s larger medical centers, and, thanks to health care workers, are starting to make their way into smaller hospitals.

The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine calls therapeutic hypothermia “the most important specific treatment for a patient surviving cardiac arrest.” The treatment was recently featured in the news after a 21-year-old premedical student from the University of Southern California suffered a heart attack while running the Los Angeles Marathon and was saved by the induction of therapeutic hypothermia. Similarly, Jefferson Regional Medical Center, a smaller hospital near Pittsburgh, recently installed its first cooling device, allowing physicians to save the life and neurological function of a 57-year-old DARE officer who had suffered a heart attack. Jefferson Memorial is one of the first smaller hospital in the area to offer therapeutic hypothermia, but doctors and patients alike should expect the treatment to be a growing trend in hospitals around the country.

Reader's Comments

  1. Susie Dickson |

    Super great post. Truely.

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