News | October 07, 2009

Baptist Using Therapeutic Hypothermia to Save Heart Attack Patients

October 7, 2009 – Baptist Medical Center's Emergency Department will begin using a new procedure, called therapeutic hypothermia, starting Oct. 19 to increase a patient's chances of survival after cardiac arrest.

The new procedure involves decreasing the core body temperature to 89º F 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 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.

"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," said Baptist Emergency Department Medical Director Eric Zoog, M.D.

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," he explained.??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 restarted. 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. It is estimated every sixth time a cardiac arrest patient is treated with therapeutic hypothermia, physicians can rescue one life.?Baptist and its ER physicians made a donation of coolers to American Medical Response Oct. 5.

"This is the only therapy that nearly triples the rate of survival after cardiac arrest," Dr. Zoog said. "Strides like this have not been made with cardiac arrest in over 30 years – since the invention of CPR."

Baptist is the only hospital in the Metro Jackson area with Chest Pain Accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers.
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