Have you ever heard the saying “they’re not dead until they’re warm and dead“?
It is widely known that cooling the body in particular circumstances can improve your chances of survival and lessen brain damage.
Also, there have been cases where victims have appeared or even been declared clinically dead due to the reduced cardiac output and decreased arterial pressure that follows severe hypothermia, leading to difficulty in detecting any peripheral pulses or respiratory effort in some cases.
Indeed, hypothermia is also one of the treatable, reversible causes of cardiac arrest, according to ACLS guidelines.
No pulse or heartbeat for three-and-a-half hours
Still, I was rather astounded to hear about a recent case involving a British man who allegedly had an extremely long resuscitation period following a hypothermic event, and believe that it gives reason to question what we know so far about CPR and states of life and death in general.
From the Herald:
“A BRITISH man whose heart stopped for three-and-a-half hours was brought back to life by a machine that performed 20,000 life-saving chest compressions.
Engineer Arun Bhasin, 53, was found lying unconscious in Croydon, south London, in December in temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius after falling in the street and hitting his head.
He was rushed to the hospital, but he suffered a cardiac arrest.
He was taken to the Croydon University Hospital where two of the UK’s top experts in resuscitation – Dr. Nigel Raghunath and Dr. Russell Metcalfe-Smith – are based. They put Bhasin on a pioneering new CPR machine, AutoPulse, which performed almost 20,000 life-saving chest compressions to keep his heart and lungs functioning.
Raghunath said, “He was pretty much dead in that he had no pulse or heartbeat for three-and-a-half hours so it is amazing that we got him back. I’ve not seen anything like it in 15 years in A&E.”
What was really amazing to me about this case, was that CPR was continued (albeit on autopilot) in the department for so long. With a positive outcome! Remarkable.
My question therefore is this – Do we ever call “time” to quickly in some cases?