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These patients had all suffered cardiac arrest due to hypothermia or been partially suffocated by avalanches or submerged under ice. One way or another, their brains and bodies had been starved of oxygen. This is where it gets a little tricky and maybe counterintuitive. In effect, these patients were probably all suffering from varying degrees of something known as reperfusion injury. Reperfusion injury is the name for the damage that takes place when oxygen is reintroduced to oxygen-starved tissue.

He said they were planning to send him to their intensive care unit for evaluation of his heart, and then just wait for him to either die or wake up,” said Barazangi. ” It was the middle of the night, and she didn’t know exactly what number to call, so she rang up the neurointensive care unit, where she found someone willing to give out Mayer’s cell phone number. As she waited on hold, she could feel the seconds ticking away. At the University of California, San Francisco, she had been trained to start cooling patients within an hour of their cardiac arrest.

Once again, it came from Sterz’ group in Austria, this time under the heading of the Hypothermia After Cardiac Arrest Study Group. The Austrians, led by Dr. Michael Holzer and Sterz, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that they had cooled 136 cardiac arrest patients and 55 percent emerged from the hospital with healthy brain function. In a control group of 137 patients—cardiac arrest victims who were not cooled—just 39 percent got better. S. medical journal. Mayer thought it would be decisive, a triumphant breakthrough, for doctors like him who thought that hypothermia should be the standard treatment.

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