New cooling therapy to help cardiac arrest patients avoid brain damage

Saturday, August 07, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: cooling therapy, brain damage, health news

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(NaturalNews) Emergency responders in New York City will soon start to use a new "cooling" therapy on cardiac arrest patients that will help to decrease their likelihood of brain damage. Therapeutic hypothermia, as it is being called, works to lower patients' body temperatures so their brains will require less oxygen, resulting in less potential damage to brain cells.

In January 2009, twenty hospitals in New York City first began using therapeutic hypothermia on patients. Today, 43 of the 50 city hospitals are using it.

The therapy involves applying cold packs to patients, injecting chilled saline solutions into their bodies, as well as some other more advanced techniques.

According to a New York Times article, the goal of therapeutic hypothermia is to lower injured patients' body temperatures six degrees for 24 hours in order to slow the body down and give it time to recover.

"We know that cooling your body's temperature slows everything down," explained Salvatore J. Cassano, New York City fire commissioner. "It brings your body out of that panic mode, and it actually reduces your body's need for blood. That buys us time."

The practice has been so successful that now the city wants to bring the practice on the road, and is currently training first responders to be able to apply the technique in an ambulance. In those critical moments after a patient is revived, responders will be able to do everything possible to prevent further injuries by slowing that patient's body reaction.

Since first being applied in hospital settings, therapeutic hypothermia has increased cardiac patient survival rates from 10 percent to 16.7 percent.

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