Cardiac arrest is a serious issue in the United States, and medical treatment is literally a matter of life or death. However, treatment of a cardiac arrest patient isn’t simply about just getting the heart beating again; it also involves trying to limit damage to the brain and other body parts.
Therapeutic hypothermia is a technique that involves the cooling of the body to approximately 90 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours after cardiac arrest. According to the American Heart Association, this treatment can increase a cardiac arrest patient’s odds of survival and decrease the risk of brain damage.
Who Can Benefit?
Therapeutic hypothermia is a technique used to treat survivors of certain types of cardiac arrest where the individual’s heart stops beating and is restarted by CPR, though the patient may remain in an unconscious state.
How Does It Work?
The actual cooling of the body is done through the use of chilled intravenous fluids and gel pads. The patient is kept unconscious with the use of medications during the hypothermic process.
By lowering the temperature of the body, the medical team decreases the amount of oxygen the body needs, lessens swelling, and limits the release of toxins. In these ways, therapeutic hypothermia helps protect the brain and other vital organs. Research has shown that this treatment both increases the chance of survival after CPR and results in better neurological outcomes.
What Happens Next?
After being in the cooled state for several hours, the patient’s body is slowly warmed back up to normal body temperature, 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. After the cooling process is complete, the patient’s neurological function may be assessed. Depending on the patient’s response to therapeutic hypothermia, existing cardiac problems may then be addressed with surgery, medications, and/or changes in lifestyle.
At Denton Regional Medical Center, we utilize the Artic Sun Temperature Management System. This noninvasive treatment lowers the body’s core temperature to about 90 degrees Fahrenheit and increases the survival rate for our cardiac arrest patients.
To learn more about this and other cardiovascular treatments, contact the Heart Center at Denton Regional. We offer comprehensive cardiovascular care in a compassionate and professional environment.