For ten years now the American Heart Association (AHA) and International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) have been advocating the use of therapeutic hypothermia for cardiac arrest patients. In recent years their guidelines have been embraced by hospitals worldwide, and since then, the numbers have continued to grow.
Yet, surprisingly, little implementation of hypothermia therapy has been seen with EMS crews in the field. I say surprisingly because not only is this life-preserving technique endorsed by AHA and ILCOR, but a number of studies have been released, proving its effectiveness in cardiac arrest patient survival rates.
But before I get into the logistics, what is hypothermia therapy (HT) exactly? As it can be executed as either an invasive or non-invasive medical treatment, therapeutic hypothermia acts to cool the body, thereby slowing a person’s cellular metabolism (by 5-7% for every degree Celsius) and, in turn, their oxygen demand to tissues as well.
(Research shows that the best results come from cooling the body to 32-34 degrees Celsius for 12-24 hours)
So, during cardiac arrest, an individual suffers from ischemic injury to the heart’s tissues. However, with immediate intervention of therapeutic hypothermia, the tissue’s demand for oxygen is decreased, therefore directly increasing their chances of survival!
One study outlined in an article featured on FoxNews.com showed that the survival rate for cardiac arrest patients at six months was 59 percent for patients who had undergone HT compared to 45 percent among patients who had not. And HT interventions in the field could be as simple as applying water blankets, torso vests, or leg wraps.
Hopefully we will see more crews both domestically and internationally adopting hypothermia therapy in the field as it could mean the difference between life or death in the long run.
photo credit: FoxNews.com
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