Health Team

Lowering Temps Raises Survival Odds in Cardiac Arrest

Posted February 9, 2007

— Cardiac arrest stops the heart from pumping blood, and every minute is critical in getting the flow restarted.

A cooling therapy gives doctors a better chance at saving a life and preventing brain damage.

Claire Simmons is thankful to be alive after a cardiac arrest.

“I can't believe this, that it all happened to me and that I'm fine. I'm really lucky,” Simmons said.

Simmons is lucky because at the hospital where she was taken, doctors used a newer treatment. The system uses water-filled pads to cool heart attack patients.

Doctors can also use cool intravenous fluids and other mechanical means to reduce body temperature.

<:”The machine will work really hard to get the patient's temperature down,” says Colleen Snydeman, a nurse manager at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The goal of the process is to forestall brain damage that occurs when bloodflow to the brain stops after the cardiac arrest. Studies have found cooling patients down can help prevent that damage.

“The hope is that by treating them with hypothermia protocol in minimizing the amount of brain injury that occurred, that they have a better chance of returning to a full and productive life,” Dr. Claudia Chae of Mass General says about the patients.

Doctors like the results they are seeing.

“We've had some miraculous outcomes. We've had several patients treated in the past that probably would have died or have been in a severely impaired state, and they've walked out of the hospital extremely well,” said Dr. David Greer, a neurologist at Mass General.

Simmons says cooling therapy saved more than just save her life. It preserved the quality of her life as well.
“I feel fine. I'm back to normal activities, Simmons said.

Wake County Emergency Medical Sservices, WakeMed and Rex Hospital were among the first in the country to start using cooling therapy with a system called CoolGard 3000.

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  • fbell Feb 15, 2007

    This sounds logical considering the Russians, soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990's were using lowering the temperature of the entire body to slow the pumping of the blood for various types of surgery. I am glad we have an innovative, life saving, EMS in Wake County, that keeps us "cool" after a heart atack rather than letting us go "cold".

  • tarheelras Feb 15, 2007

    "Lowering Temps Raises Survival Odds in Cardiac Arrest"

    Just sounds like more global warming hype to me.

  • dragonslayer Feb 14, 2007

    Wake county EMS is one of the few EMS systems in the country that use the cooling system .CPR is also performed differently in wake county .Thanks to Dr Meyers, the medical director for wake county Raleigh has one of the highest save rates in the entire country .

  • Notebender1970 Feb 13, 2007

    It says Wake County EMS in the story. I wonder the protocol and if the plan is to start something statewide in the EMS system. hmmmmm???????

  • DLG Feb 12, 2007

    has this been successful in every case or in some cases? I hope this a the breakthru that is need to help with the survival of heart attack patients.