Therapeutic hypothermia for heart attack and stroke

What is therapeutic hypothermia?

Cardiac arrest and stroke patients are at high risk for brain damage. At Nazareth Hospital, the critical care staff is equipped to address that serious complication. After the patient is stabilized in the Emergency Department, expert intensivists (critical care physicians) can quickly and carefully screen the patient for possible use of therapeutic hypothermia (TH).

TH is a 48-hour process in which the patient’s body temperature is reduced to 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit over 24 hours with the use of a special intravenous (IV) catheter. Body temperature is then gradually brought back to normal over the following 24 hours. The lower temperature has been shown to help cells in the body maintain stability, preventing a cascade of reactions set off by oxygen deprivation—reactions that can result in cell death and permanent brain damage.

The TH procedure carries risk, and is only considered in consultation with the family after the patient is carefully screened. Nazareth Hospital has invested in the most accurate TH equipment available to reduce risk to the patient community, says Scott Chelemer, MD, medical director of Critical Care Units at Nazareth. “The TH program was a significant investment for Nazareth for the betterment of our community,” he says.

“And it is well worth it when you see the lifesaving impact the program has had on our patients.”