October 2, 2009 — On October 19, 2009, Baptist Medical Center’s Emergency Department will begin using a new procedure, called therapeutic hypothermia, to increase a patient’s chances of survival after their heart has stopped (cardiac arrest).
The new procedure involves decreasing the core body temperature to 89ºF after the patient’s heart has been restarted. Cooling may be started by paramedics if they have been able to restart the heart prior to getting the patient to the hospital. This involves injecting a patient with chilled intravenous (IV) fluids. Portable iceboxes (coolers) will be on ambulances to 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 89º.
Baptist Emergency Department Medical Director Eric Zoog, MD said, “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.”
He added that Baptist has already used this technique on one patient utilizing chilled water blankets in direct contact with the patient’s skin, which enabled the patient to return to the same quality of life he had prior to his heart attack. “This treatment allows us to reduce the impact of a heart attack on a patient’s body and increase their chance of survival once they get to the hospital.”
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.
This treatment method 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. In fact, every sixth time a cardiac arrest patient is treated with therapeutic hypothermia, physicians can rescue one life.
Baptist and its ER physicians will make a donation of iceboxes (coolers) to American Medical Response on October 5, 2009, at 2:00 pm in the Baptist Cardiovascular Center.
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