Therapeutic Hypothermia

Cooling Therapy Minimizes Tissue Damage in Cardiac Arrest Patients

University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center offers cardiac arrest patients the latest innovations in cooling therapy. This treatment is used both in the emergency department and in our critical care units.

What is Therapeutic Hypothermia?

After a patient suffers cardiac arrest or when the heart muscle stops beating, whether outside of a hospital or as an inpatient, therapeutic hypothermia is a method of suspending animation, and cooling the patient’s body temperature to help prevent further damage to their tissue. Therapeutic hypothermia improves patient outcomes after cardiac arrest, and is recommended by the American Heart Association.

How does Therapeutic Hypothermia Work?

Using water-cooled pads placed on the body with a computer-controlled cooling unit, specially-trained doctors and nurses are able to gradually lower a patient’s body temperature over a period of 24 hours from 98 to 89 – 93 degrees Fahrenheit. During this time, the patient is sedated and unaware of the cooling process.

Are there Risks to Using Therapeutic Hypothermia?

The risks to utilizing this type of therapy are minimal but can include: shivering, infection and electrolyte imbalance. However, research has consistently demonstrated that therapeutic hypothermia improves patient neurological function greatly versus those patients who do not have the cooling therapy.

Is Everyone a Candidate for Therapeutic Hypothermia?

Not every patient is a candidate, but therapeutic hypothermia may be used on men and women, aged 18 years and older, who have met a set of criteria established by the American Heart Association. This type of therapy can be utilized by patients who experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting or as a patient already admitted to the hospital.

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