New techniques could eventually help to save many more lives. Image Credit: Anastasia Puscian / US Navy
The exact point at which a person is dead and beyond resuscitation is becoming increasingly blurred.
As scientists learn more about the point at which the body dies, the less it seems we actually know about the process. Previously it had been accepted that irreversible brain damage can occur only a few minutes after someone's heart stops, but now it seems that it may be possible to revive someone even up to an hour after being declared clinically dead.
"Historically, when a person's heart stopped and they stopped breathing, for all intents and purposes, they were dead," said Dr. Sam Parnia. "There was nothing you could do to change that." With cases on the rise of people being successfully revived after longer and longer periods it seems that the traditional concept of the point of death may in fact be obselete.
One of the key techniques being considered in the resuscitation of patients is to induce hypothermia, a state in which the core temperature of the body is reduced by several degrees and which can help protect the brain for much longer, increasing the chances of a successful revival.
"What we've come to learn is that those notions of irreversibility of brain damage are dead wrong," said neurologist Dr. Stephan Mayer. "If you make those judgments too soon without going fully all the way, you may be actually writing people off."
Source: Live Science | Comments (12)