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Induced Therapeutic Hypothermia
Induced Therapeutic Hypothermia: a new way to help patients recover from heart attacks
When it comes to surviving a heart attack, getting your heart beating again is only the first part of the battle. Making sure your brain can recover from the lack of blood and oxygen is also an important focus for the Emergency Medical Service providers in the ambulance and the cardiologists who meet you in the Emergency Department . Now, they have a new treatment to make sure you not only survive – but also thrive – after you regain a pulse.
“Induced therapeutic hypothermia uses a cooling blanket to reduce the patient’s body temperature to enhance recovery and minimize brain damage,” said Emergency Department Medical Director Thomas Scott, DO, who uses the new system in collaboration with the hospital’s Center for Cardiology, staffed by New England Heart Institute cardiologists and cardiac surgeons. “It reduces oxygen requirements for the brain and other vital organs. It helps recovery in other ways. Not only are neurological outcomes enhanced but survival rates are improved.”
Dr. Scott adds, “this isn’t for everyone. Patients have to meet a certain criteria. They must be stable after regaining their pulse, and cardiac arrest must have began less than an hour prior to arrival at Parkland . These are patients that benefit the most from receiving therapeutic hypothermia, it could make all the difference.”
The key element is a large cooling blanket in which the patient is carefully wrapped. Patients are normally maintained in a cooled-down state for 24 hours, during which they’re closely monitored in the Intensive Care Unit. Then, patients are gradually re-warmed and wake up after body function has returned to normal.
A Background of Excellence
Induced Therapeutic Hypothermia only adds to cardiology capabilities that are already strong at Parkland. The hospital’s affiliation with New England Heart Institute (NEHI), the cardiology practice based at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, ensures that expert clinicians are available for complex problems like acute heart attack, chronic heart failure and arrhythmia.
Additionally, Parkland’s expert nurses and technicians make certain that patients are treated with skill, compassion and highly personalized care, says NEHI cardiologist Andrew Cohen, MD, the Center for Cardiology’s medical director.
“We provide the full continuum of services here – office consults, a wide range of diagnostic techniques, cardiac catheterization, interventional treatments and cardiac rehabilitation,” he said. He serves as a full-time general cardiologist at Parkland, seeing and following patients and performing cardiac catheterization procedures.
When more specialized services are needed – such as percutaneous cardiac intervention (PCI) to open blocked arteries in heart attack patients – Cohen can call in fellow NEHI specialists to provide the additional treatments at Parkland. PCI enables the interventional cardiologist to widen the blocked artery by inflating a tiny medical balloon. It’s important for both emergency cases and as an elective procedure for heart disease patients not actively having heart attacks.
It’s one of several key procedures monitored by the US Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Recent national surveys have shown Parkland as a top performer for hospitals in New Hampshire for PCI provided within 90 minutes of a heart attack patient’s arrival at the hospital. Parkland Medical Center consistently scores above the national average, according to CMS scores. Those number place Parkland in the “gold” range, a designation reserved only for top-quality hospitals.
“Our PCI success represents a streamlined protocol for moving patients efficiently from the Emergency Department to the catheterization lab,” the ED’s Dr. Scott said. “We respond systematically to each case – medications, notification plans. The working relationship between the ED, Cardiology and Emergency Medical Services is very close.”