More Therapeutic Hypothermia Patients Surviving

Therapeutic hypothermia helping cardiac arrest patients improve survival odds

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Sudden cardiac death, which has a high mortality rate, can be difficult for doctors to treat. One method that has been increasingly utilized is therapeutic hypothermia, or medically induced cooling, to prevent death and preserve brain function.

Mayo Clinic researchers have found that therapeutic hypothermia has increased in-hospital survival of sudden cardiac arrest patients by 12 percent between 2001 and 2009.

"If you're in the hospital, find out if they use therapeutic hypothermia."

The percentage is significant because the survival rate for sudden cardiac death is less than 10 percent. Patients that suffer sudden cardiac arrest in a hospital have a better chance of survival because of immediate access to medical attention as opposed to individuals who experience it at home, work or other locations.

Of those that survive, some also are impacted by substantial brain function loss.

Alejandro Rabinstein, MD, a co-author and neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, said that after a review of a large number of cases, he is confident that the reduction in mortality among in-hospital sudden cardiac arrest patients is significant and sustained.

Previous studies also have found that therapeutic hypothermia benefits patients, and a pair of 2002 studies suggested it may be more effective than traditional therapies. It is suspected that the mild cooling suppresses harmful chemical reactions in the brain and helps preserve cells key to brain functioning.

Researchers analyzed a database of more than 1 million patients between 2001 and 2009. In 2001, the death rate among in-hospital sudden cardiac arrest patients was 70 percent. They found that in 2009, the most recent data available, the percentage had dropped to 58 percent.

Researchers will present the findings at the American Academy of Neurology 2012 Annual Meeting in New Orleans next week.

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Review Date: 
April 20, 2012
Last Updated:
April 21, 2012