Reinventing healthcare one patient at a time

Hypothermic Therapy

Improving outcomes for sudden cardiac arrest patients

Ellis Medicine's innovative Hypothermic Therapy treatment for heart attack patients has helped save dozens of lives since Ellis began utilizing it in the fall of 2009.

The protocols for Ellis' Hypothermic Therapy, known as "Code Cool" by hospital staff, were established after more than a year of research, review and training by a multi-disciplinary team.

Hypothermic Therapy is a process used to rapidly lower the body temperature to a near hypothermic state in order to prevent or reduce brain damage in a cardiac arrest patient. After cardiac arrest, when the heart is restarted and blood flow returns to the brain, cells in the brain can be damaged due to certain chemical reactions.

"Before the use of therapeutic hypothermia, 60% or more of patients who survived the initial cardiac event had significant brain damage. Studies have shown that cooling the brain following restoration of blood flow, which decreases the oxygen requirements of the brain during this critical period, can increase the chances of a favorable outcome by 30% to 50%," said Brian McDonald, M.D., medical director of the Intensive Care Unit at Ellis Hospital.

Patients who receive this treatment are "cooled" using a chilled saline IV, and either an external cooling device or an internal catheter based cooling device, reducing body temperature by about seven degrees Fahrenheit. The process is closely monitored by a specially trained "Code Cool" team from across the hospital, including physicians, nurses and patient care technicians from the Emergency Department, Critical Care, Cardiology, Neurology and Respiratory Therapy. The re-warming process is slow and gradual - a half a degree at a time - as the body temperature is raised again.