OSF St. Joseph Medical Center

Therapeutic Hypothermia Treatment

Therapeutic hypothermia, also known as cardiac cooling, can improve a heart attack patient's chances at a full recovery. The therapy is for adults age 18 and older who have been quickly and successfully resuscitated following cardiac arrests. In this situation, they have regained their pulse and blood pressure, but are still unresponsive.

Therapeutic hypothermia decreases the release of chemicals that cause injury to the brain and the consumption of oxygen by the brain. It also reduces the amount of acid in the brain, allowing neurons to stabilize, thus, helping to preserve brain function.

How Does it Work?

A special cooling blanket is filled with cold water is placed on the patient. The blanket causes the patient's body temperature to drop to 94 degrees. The cooling process is done gradually and the results of the process are best when started within a six hour window from the onset of symptoms.

After up to 24 hours, or when physicians deem the patient ready, the patient is steadily re-warmed. The re-warming process is also done slowly and can take up to six hours.