More Than 90 Percent of Those Suffering Cardiac Arrest End Up Dying

publication date: Aug 10, 2009

If you care about your own health or the health of a loved one, here's an example of a significant problem of hospitals not adopting the best emergency care (which is actually a money saver) to minimize fatalities from cardiac arrest. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports on the low rates of adoption of "therapeutic hypothermia" which greatly increases survival rates from cardiac arrest.

Among the highlights of Gupta's reporting:

  • "More than 90 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest...For more than a decade, there has been evidence that cooling a patient's body -- or therapeutic hypothermia -- improves those odds. No one quite knows why, but it's thought that the cold reduces the body's need for oxygen and slows the deadly chemical cascade that sets in when oxygen isn't circulating because the heart stopped beating."
  • "Yet, as one 2007 paper put it, 'implementation of hypothermia is lousy.' In 2006, researchers at the University of Chicago found that just 34 percent of critical care physicians, and just 16 percent of emergency physicians, had ever attempted to use hypothermia to treat cardiac arrest. Makers of cooling equipment say fewer than 300 hospitals, out of more than 6,000 nationwide, have the necessary equipment."
  • "Cost is often cited as a reason for this reluctance, but a study published Tuesday by UPenn researchers in the journal Circulation finds that cooling is more cost effective than many established medical therapies."

What can you do to protect yourself in this case?

How about calling local hospitals you would likely be sent to in an emergency and ask if their emergency rooms are equipped to provide this life saving care. Make clear to family and your local EMTs that you'd like to go to that hospital for such care. If you or are a loved one suffer cardiac arrest, it could literally save your life.


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Eric Tyson is the only best-selling personal finance author who has an extensive background as an hourly-based financial advisor and who does not accept speaking fees, endorsement deals or fees of any type from companies in the financial services industry or product or service providers recommended in his articles, books and his publications.