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Induced Therapeutic Hypothermia

Sudden cardiac arrest results in more than 400,000 deaths in the United States each year. Of those patients who survive, many receive only supportive care, with only five to 30 percent of patients being discharged from the hospital. Many of the survivors suffer from brain injury. Until recently, most interventions had little effect on preventing further brain injury. Rex Hospital is one of several hospitals throughout the country that has begun to use therapeutic hypothermia as an intervention to protect brain function.

How is therapeutic hypothermia performed?

A highly trained medical team stabilizes the patient in the Emergency Department, the patient is placed on a breathing machine (ventilator), and the cooling method is started. The patient is then transferred to the Critical Care Unit.

What can I expect to see when I visit my loved one?

The patient is monitored closely by an interdisciplinary medical team and will be breathing with the assistance of a breathing machine (ventilator). In the patient's room, there will b a variety of alarms, monitors and devices that will occasionally ring as they monitor the patient's condition. The patient will feel cold to touch but will be on special medication during the cooling process for comfort.

How long does the cooling last?

The cooling lasts for 24 hours. After 24 hours, the rewarming phase starts and lasts eight hours. The patient is kept at 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius) for 24 more hours to complete the therapy.

Who can answer my questions about the procedure?

Members of the Rex Healthcare medical team are available to answer questions before, during and after your loved one's stay in our Critical Care Unit.