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Coordinated Cooling Effort After Cardiac Arrest Can Improve Outcomes
Date:7/11/2011

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Cooling cardiac arrest patients can reduce the risk of lasting neurological damage, but this lifesaving treatment remains largely underutilized, a new study says.

Many local hospitals don't have the proper systems in place, and the cooling treatment must start within hours of a cardiac arrest to be effective, according to the report in the July 11 online issue of Circulation, but rapid transfer to an appropriate facility can save lives and stave off lasting neurological damage.

About 300,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of hospitals in the United States each year, and most are fatal, according to the American Heart Association. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart's electrical system short- circuits, and the heart suddenly stops pumping. What happens immediately after the arrest can make a big difference in outcomes. CPR must be performed and a defibrillator should be used to shock the heart and restore a normal heart rhythm within a few minutes, and then the patient must be packed in ice and transferred to a hospital for cooling and re-warming.

Cooling involves lowering the core body temperature to about 92 degrees Fahrenheit and keeping it there for 24 hours. The patient is re-warmed over the next eight hours. The thinking is that cooling may allow the body and the brain to get by with less oxygen.

The system detailed in the new study involves "rapid and coordinated" transfer of the patient to a facility that has appropriate systems in place. Developed at the Minneapolis Heart Institute of Abbott Northwestern Hospital, the system involves first responders, Emergency Medical Service (EMS) departments and more than 30 hospitals within 200 miles of Minneapolis, which is where Abbott is located.

Of 140 people treated with cooling after cardiac arrest, 107 were transferred to Abbott Northwestern Hospital for their treatment.
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