Therapeutic Hypothermia: A Case Study

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Approximately 300,000 people experience sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) per year. The percentage of people who survive to discharge from the hospital is a dismal 10% to 25%. After SCA and the administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, these individuals can suffer what is known as “post resuscitation syndrome.” This syndrome includes post–cardiac arrest brain injury, a cycle of cerebral edema and cell death that can lead to permanent neurological damage. In two landmark studies, therapeutic hypothermia (TH) was found to improve the chances of being discharged from the hospital post SCA by significant percentages. Despite endorsements, from the American Heart Association and other professional organizations, TH is not a well-known intervention. There are many reasons why this may be true. Despite its proven usefulness, TH does have some side effects that are best handled in the setting of intensive care units. This article describes a case of therapeutic hypothermia and its implications for perianesthesia nursing care.

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