A woman in North Carolina, USA, who suffered a heart attack was brought back from the dead after being put in a deep freeze for two days, reports Daily Mail, London. Mother-of-two Amy Moore, 38, had no pulse for 20 minutes before doctors tried a daring procedure.
She was wrapped in an ice-cold blanket and injected with freezing fluids to bring her temperature down to 93 degrees, well below the body's normal 98.6 degrees.
This put her brain into a dormant state, protecting it from the damage that comes when the heart stops and deprives it of blood, and giving surgeons a chance of getting her damaged heart pumping again.
Mrs Moore, of North Carolina, spent two days on ice before doctors decided her heart was strong enough to work normally and slowly thawed her out.
She has some memory loss as a result of the heart attack, but her doctors say that although she was effectively dead for 20 minutes, she has no brain damage and expect her to make a full recovery. Her husband Jacob said: 'She was in really bad shape. It was very scary.'
Earlier this year, doctors in Newcastle upon Tyne used a similar ice treatment was used to save the life of 16-week-old Finley Burton, who was born with a hole in his heart. He was kept in a 'cooling bag' for four days after he suffered potentially fatal problems following surgery, and was able to go home 12 weeks later.
Therapeutic hypothermia treatment is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently directed all ambulances in the city to take cardiac arrest patients directly to hospitals with cooling centres.
The concept is age-old. The Greek physician Hippocrates advocated packing wounded soldiers in snow and ice. Therapeutic hypothermia is currently offered in selected U.S. hospitals and has shown highly promising results.
The idea behind it was born from observing how children who fell into icy ponds could survive for long periods, even if they were underwater for up to an hour.
By comparison, those who lose circulation in normal temperatures have a very low chance of surviving after just 10 minutes.
Doctors have been carrying out the treatment using ice packs, cooling blankets or using catheters to cool patients on the inside too, but the exact way it works has proved elusive.
‘The real mechanism is unknown, but it is hypothesized that cooling in the setting of cardiac arrest gives the brain time to rest and heal,' said Dr. Michael Sayre, chairman of the Emergency Cardiovascular Care committee of the American Heart Association.‘We still have a lot to learn. Right now it is a 'one size fits all therapy' where everyone gets cooled to the same temperature for the same amount of time.'