When someone suffers cardiac arrest, the heart suddenly stops beating due to an abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation. Within seconds, the victim loses consciousness, collapses and has no pulse. The blood and oxygen supply to the brain and body dminishes.
Only immediate emergency treatment to restart the heart, such as CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and external defibrillation (electrical shock), can prevent death. Time is the key factor in survival for these victims. The American Heart Association recommends resuscitation within five minutes of collapse or sooner.
In two research studies Researchers have found that survival with good outcomes can be increased if certain cardiac arrest patients have their bodies cooled for 12 to 24 hours.
The effectiveness of the cooling treatment called therapeutic hypothermia was shown in two 2002 New England Journal of Medicine studies of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients who were cooled to a body temperature of about 33 degrees Celsius (around 91 degrees Fahrenheit) for 12 to 24 hours. Today most hospitals still do not use this life saving treatment.
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