DEATH UP CLOSE: Scientists examining boundaries between the living and the dead
Brain death becoming more complex in laboratory experiments
Death is 100 percent certain for all patients. One of the many euphemisms for the Big "D" is Our Common Fate. Scientists are now looking at the slender boundaries of what separates the living from the dead in laboratory experiments. They have come to the conclusion that dying takes longer than is previously thought - and that there are ways to interrupt the process.
New studies suggest that hypothermia actually protects the brain by decreasing its need for oxygen and staving off cell death.
There have been numerous instances where people immersed in freezing water have been revived after hours have gone by. Brain cells typically start dying within a few minutes after the heart stops pumping oxygen.
New studies suggest that hypothermia actually protects the brain by decreasing its need for oxygen and staving off cell death. As such, body cooling has become common for many patients after cardiac arrest. Cooling more a few degrees below normal temperature, however can also cause cell damage.
Two recent studies presented at the American Heart Association's scientific meeting in Dallas in November tried to see whether early cooling by paramedics after they get a heart restarted is helpful. The technique didn't seem affect survival or brain damage. Cooling the body to 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 96.8 degrees during the first day in the hospital brings better results - but again, not by much difference.
There's also the matter as to how long to wait to perform CPR. One 2012 study found the median duration in hospitals was 20 minutes for patients that didn't survive; 12 minutes for those who did. The AHA recommends bystanders keep performing CPR until emergency medical services arrive.
One Japanese study, based on six years of data on cardiac arrest survival across Japan, concluded it is worthwhile to continue CPR for 38 minutes or longer and still have a chance to avoid major brain damage.
Defining brain death is becoming more complex as researchers find signs of activity in both human and animal subjects whose brain waves at first show they've "flat-lined." While some doctors use the EEG as a final check for signs of life in the brain, most rely on a series of reflex and respiration tests given over several hours to determine brain death.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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