Hypothermia Therapy for Cardiac Arrest
Hypothermia – a body temperature below 95 degrees F – is a serious condition caused by prolonged exposure to cold. While hypothermia is usually something to avoid, research has shown it can actually help prevent brain damage and increase survival odds among people who experience cardiac arrest.
Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin have used induced hypothermia to treat cardiac arrest patients since November 2007, and were the first in southeastern Wisconsin to make it a regular treatment protocol.
“Other hospitals in the state bring patients here for this technique,” said James Kleczka, MD, Medical College of Wisconsin cardiologist and medical director, Cardiology Inpatient Services and Cardiopulmonary Intensive Care Unit.
In cardiac arrest, the heart suddenly stops beating as a result of an arrhythmia, heart attack or other cause. When the heart isn’t beating, blood doesn’t circulate and oxygen isn’t delivered to the body. A lack of oxygen to the brain means brain injury is likely if cardiac arrest is untreated.
“Inducing hypothermia can stop processes that damage brain tissue,” Dr. Kleczka said. “This treatment is most effective within two hours of cardiac arrest.”
The cooling process begins in the Emergency Department. “The patient is sedated and immediately packed in ice,” Dr. Kleczka said. “Then, in the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory or the Cardiopulmonary ICU, we put a special catheter into the patient. The catheter is a closed circuit – cold saline runs through it and back into a cooling device. Thus, the catheter cools the patient’s circulating blood without infusing saline into the blood stream.” The patient remains in a hypothermic state for 24 hours and is then rewarmed.
“This is one of the most effective ways to date shown to minimize brain damage and improve survival for cardiac arrest patients,” Dr. Kleczka said.
Source: Froedtert Today
Date: December 2008