Neurologic and Cardiac Benefits of Therapeutic Hypothermia

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Numerous studies have shown the favorable effects of lowering the core temperature of the body in various conditions such as acute myocardial infarction, acute cerebrovascular disease, acute lung injury, and acute spinal cord injury. Therapeutic hypothermia (TH) works at different molecular and cellular levels. TH improves oxygen supply to ischemic areas and increases blood flow by decreasing vasoconstriction, as well as oxygen consumption, glucose utilization, lactate concentration, intracranial pressure, heart rate, cardiac output, and plasma insulin levels. TH has been shown to improve neurologic outcome in acute cerebrovascular accidents. Furthermore, recent studies revealed that TH is a useful method of neuroprotection against ischemic neuronal injury after cardiac arrest. TH in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is becoming a standard practice nationwide. Further studies need to be performed to develop a better understanding of the benefits and detrimental effects of TH, to identify the most efficacious TH strategy, and the candidates most likely to derive benefit from the procedure. Although many animal studies have demonstrated benefit, larger human clinical trials are recommended to investigate the beneficial effect of TH on reducing myocardial infarction size and coronary reperfusion injuries.

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