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Without proper intervention, patients who suffer cardiac arrest, a traumatic brain injury, a stroke or a spinal cord injury may be left with permanent brain damage. In 2009, The Medical Center of Plano became the first hospital in Collin County to begin therapeutic hypothermia therapy and normothermia therapy, two breakthrough treatments that can preserve brain function by controlling the patient's body temperature for a defined period of time. Our goal - recovery with no or minimal neurological impairment.
Who is a candidate for this treatment?
According to the American Heart Association, out-of-hospital cardiac arrest - in which the heart stops effectively pumping blood through the body - annually occurs in about 300,000 adults in the United States.
This period of insufficient blood flow can permanently damage the brain, which competes with other organs for much-needed oxygen. However, inducing hypothermia in unconscious patients who have been revived from sudden clinical death can actually improve chances of survival - and without brain damage.
What are the origins of hypothermia therapy?
For many years, doctors have used this treatment in the operating room to gradually decrease a patient's need for oxygenated blood during surgery. Research shows that cooling the body allows the patient to survive with less oxygen by reducing metabolic demand.
Since 2005, the American Heart Association has recommended applying the same technique with cardiac arrest patients. The Medical Center of Plano was one of the first hospitals in the country to partner with local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agencies to use this state-of-the-art therapy after cardiac arrest.
How does hypothermia therapy work?
By inserting a catheter with chilled saline solution or by cooling externally with special pads, a patient's body temperature is lowered. The patient is monitored so they stay between 89.6 and 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours after resuscitation.
Study after study proves that hypothermia therapy dramatically increases survival rates - without brain damage - in cardiac arrest patients.
When should a cardiac arrest patient be cooled?
The sooner the better. That's why we partner with Plano EMS to cool patients in the field. (We are the first and only hospital in North Texas that partners with an EMS agency for hypothermia therapy.)
Thanks to this unified approach, cardiac arrest patients receive life-saving hypothermia therapy the moment they enter an ambulance. And that treatment continues when they arrive at The Medical Center of Plano.
Patients with a traumatic brain injury, stroke or spinal cord injury can suffer complications resulting in high fever. Left unchecked, a fever can cause permanent brain damage in these patients. At The Medical Center of Plano, we use the same technology as hypothermia therapy (described above) to keep patients' body temperature between 97.7 and 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit, thus preventing fever and further brain damage.
Instead of relying on imprecise methods such as lowering room temperature, removing blankets, placing ice packs around the patient or administering acetaminophen, NeuroLink uses high-tech machines that allow us to set and maintain an exact body temperature.