Discover the best way to save cardiac arrest victims. Kudos to Albany County hospitals for amazing results in treating cardiac arrest victims

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice
Induced hypothermia has dramatically raised the survival rate for victims of cardiac arrest, according to great article by Cathleen Crowley, health reporter for the Albany Times-Union.

Here's the scoop: 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before they get to the hospital, according to the American Heart Association. Due to the time usually entailed in resuscitating cardiac arrest victims (particularly when cardiac arrest occurs out of the hospital), such persons die or suffer severe brain damage when blood flow is restored to the body.  Albany County took the initiative to do something about this problem.

In 2009, according to Crowley's report, the ambulances of Colonie EMS would only bring resuscitated patients to hospitals that offered therapeutic hypothermia.  At first, Albany Medical Center was the only hospital in the Capital Region offering induced hypothermia for cardiac arrest victims, but St. Peter's Hospital and Ellis Hospital joined the party.  In 2009, the survival rate for cardiac arrest victims in Albany County was 22 percent (17% better than the national average!).  Is this a fluke or does Albany County have better procedures for treating cardiac arrest victims?

First, the basics about induced hypothermia for cardiac arrest victims.  Therapeutic hypothermia entails the use of cooling blankets, cooling helmet and ice packs to the groin, arm pits and neck to lower the body temperature to 32 to 34 celsius.  Hypothermia is induced for a period of 12 to 24 hours after cardiac arrest in order to reduce the metabolic demands of the body. This lowers the oxygen demands of the brain, and other vital organs, during "reperfusion" of the body with oxygenated blood. 

Data from clinical trials of perinatal asphyxia (lack of oxygen at birth for babies) reveals that induced hypothermia is safe and feasible and can significantly improve neurological outcome for newborns.  Therapeutic hypothermia has had similar results in improving rates of survival and reducing neurological deficits for persons resuscitated after cardiac arrest.

Animal studies show that induced hypothermia after cardiac arrest will not only increase the survival rate of cardiac arrest victims, but improve neurological outcomes.  Not only are cardiac arrest victims more likely to survive with induced hypothermia, such treatment reduces cerebral deficits in various animal studies of cardiac arrest.

Now, induced hypothermia is being used by Albany hospitals for cardiac arrest victims with shocking results!  Induced hypothermia reduces the metabolic demand of the body during the initial 24 hours after blood flow is restored to the body after cardiac arrest.  This procedure has had tremendous results for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims as well as those suffering cardiac arrest while patients in a hospital.

Therapeutic hypothermia is not expensive and has proven to offer great results for babies suffering from perinatal asphyxia to cardiac arrest victims.  Kudos to Albany County for this innovative and aggressive treatment for cardiac arrest victims and nice work by Cathleen Crowley in bringing this to the public's attention!
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