What Is Hypothermia Therapy?

Find out how hypothermia therapy can prevent brain damage after a heart attack.

When we hear the word "hypothermia," we often think of our bodies being exposed to dangerously cold conditions. Experiencing hypothermia could hurt a person, right? Not always. In fact, when applied under controlled conditions, hypothermia therapy is a useful tool for preventing brain damage after a heart attack.

How Does Hypothermia Therapy Work?

  • During a heart attack, blood flow to the brain is suddenly reduced. Under normal circumstances, this could potentially cause brain damage or death.
  • Research has found that the body can survive with less oxygen when body temperatures are lowered due to a lower metabolic demand.
  • Hypothermia therapy can reduce the body's core temperature after a heart attack so that the brain requires less oxygen.
  • One study found that 59% of patients treated with hypothermia therapy survived, compared to only 49% who survived without the therapy.
  • Hypothermia therapy is applied to unconscious patients using cooling blankets and/or a catheter that delivers chilled saline solution into the body.
  • A patient's body temperature is kept at 91-92 degrees F for about 24 hours.
  • The American Heart Association began recommending this therapy in 2003.
  • The Medical Center of Plano was one of the first to begin using this life-saving procedure.

Do you know the signs of a heart attack? Please become familiar with these symptoms by referring to our Health Library. The sooner a heart attack patient is treated, the better the outcome will be. If you would like to learn more about hypothermia therapy at The Medical Center of Plano, please visit us online. Please call 1-855-665-TMCP for a physician referral.

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