Health Alert: Cooling the body to protect the brain

NATIONAL (WIS) - It's long been known that cooling the body can protect the brain after a cardiac arrest, but not a lot of hospitals use the technique. Now an Arctic approach could change that.

Mike Daggy was in high school when his heart suddenly stopped beating. "What happened was I went into something called a cardiac arrest."

Medics got his blood pumping again, but damage to his brain had already started. Dr. Simon Dixon says, "He was comatose because of the period of time that his brain had not received sufficient blood supply and oxygen."

Still, the 18-year-old survived the ordeal with normal brain function. One reason could be the Arctic Sun, a cooling device that induces mild hypothermia to keep brain cells from dying.

Dr. Dixon says, "Until recently, the main modalities that we've had to apply hypothermia have been conventional ice packs and cooling blankets, so some of the newer technologies such as the Arctic Sun device have dramatically improved and made it much easier to apply hypothermia for these patients."

Doctors attach special pads to the patient's back, stomach and legs. Temperature-controlled water flows through the pads to cool the body a few degrees for 24 hours. Sensors show if the patient's brain is getting enough oxygen.

Mike Daggy says it sounds "kind of crazy. But it worked!"

Pretty amazing, too, since brain damage can start four minutes after the heart stops and Mike's brain didn't get blood for 20!

Karen Daggy says, "He had short-term memory loss when he came out of his coma, but right now, he's doing great."

With a 3.4 average and a defibrillator implanted in his chest, Mike's ready to take on the future.

In 2005, the American Heart Association recommended using mild hypothermia to reduce damage from cardiac arrest.

A study where Mike Daggy was treated shows a 55 percent survival rate using body cooling. That's much higher than the national average - five to 10 percent.

Posted by Chantelle Janelle