Therapeutic hypothermia is a slow, methodical lowering of a patient’s body temperature to 86 degrees Celsius through the use of special pads containing circulating cold water. Lowering the body temperature is believed to preserve brain function that may occur after a heart attack, particularly if the patient has been without oxygen for more than four minutes.
“Sudden cardiac arrest disrupts blood flow to the brain, and survivors often suffer disabling or fatal brain damage,” said John McPherson, M.D., medical director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Fort Campbell, Ky., soldier Dominic Evans, 32, is alive today thanks, in part, to the use of therapeutic hypothermia. When he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while performing morning exercises on his base, Vanderbilt physicians advised Blanchfield Army Hospital to begin the cooling therapy before transporting him to Vanderbilt University Hospital. As a result, he survived his heart attack without any neurological damage.
While a number of medical centers employ this method of care, there has not been a centralized depository to measure the results. Vanderbilt and five other medical centers developed about 100 new cardiology-specific data points to be used by the International Cardiac Arrest Network’s (INTCAR) Registry and have joined the international organization in order to produce clinical data that will help guide treatment.
“Therapeutic hypothermia is now considered a standard of care. However, many questions regarding optimal delivery of this treatment remain unanswered,” McPherson said. “Through use of a large registry we will be able to determine best use of this promising therapy, which may ultimately improve survival and patient outcomes.”
Researchers will soon begin data analysis to determine how clinical course and neurological outcomes are impacted by treatments and their timing in those resuscitated from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Providing cardiology updates to the registry allows physicians to assess and communicate worldwide outcomes from a comprehensive cardiovascular perspective.
The new cardiology data points are being added to INTCAR’s database for more than 500 patients from the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, University of Arizona, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Ochsner Medical Center, Vanderbilt University and Maine Medical Center.
INTCAR is a joint venture of the Hypothermia Network, the Neurocritical Care Society, and the European Cardiac Arrest Research Network, and is the world’s largest registry of cardiac arrest survivors treated with therapeutic hypothermia. There is no cost to join the registry, and interested centers can find more information at: http://www.hypothermianetwork.com/INTCAR.htm
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