For people who experience cardiac arrest,
when the heart suddenly stops beating, Baptist's Emergency Room is
equipped to offer therapeutic hypothermia, a therapy that nearly
triples the rate of survival after cardiac arrest. The therapy,
which involves cooling the body's core temperature to 89ºF, may be
initiated by paramedics in the field after they restart the heart.
Paramedics and physicians communicate about the patient's condition
while the patient is being transported, and the therapy continues
after the patient is brought to Baptist.
In the field, this therapy involves injecting a patient with
chilled intravenous (IV) fluids. Portable iceboxes (coolers) kept
on ambulances cool down the IV fluids.
Upon further stabilization at Baptist's Emergency Room, the
patient then undergoes placement of a specialized cooling catheter
into a large vein in the chest and abdomen, which safely cools them
down to a core temperature 89º. We are the only hospital in the
area to use this method, the most accurate way to measure and
maintain core body temperature.
The American Heart Association has recommended therapeutic
hypothermia following resuscitation from cardiac arrest, because
the treatment has been shown to significantly improve a patient's
chances of survival without brain damage.
Brain injury, heart dysfunction, systemic inflammation and the
underlying disease that caused the cardiac arrest all contribute to
the high death rate of patients who initially have their pulse
re-started. Collectively, these symptoms are known as post-cardiac
arrest syndrome. Therapeutic hypothermia is able to increase not
only a patient's chances of survival, but survival with normal or
nearly normal brain function by a factor of 2.5.
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