City Emergency Responders To Use New 'Therapeutic Hypothermia' Heart Attack Treatment

By Ben Fractenberg | August 3, 2010 11:53am 
The second phase of treatment allows patients to be treated in an ambulance
The second phase of treatment allows patients to be treated in an ambulance
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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

By Ben Fractenberg

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — The city is testing the second phase of a new cooling therapy to treat people suffering from a heart attack, the mayor’s office announced Tuesday.

The treatment, called therapeutic hypothermia, involves applying cooling packs and cold intravenous liquids to people suffering cardiac arrest while they are being transported to the hospital in an ambulance.

Lowering a patient’s body temperature around 10 degrees can lessen the impact of a lack of oxygen to the body.

“Hypothermia therapy slows down the brain’s demand for oxygen, which in turn can prevent damage to brain cells resulting from cardiac arrest,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. “This innovative treatment, which has already been used to help hundreds of people survive and recover following cardiac arrest, will save lives and keep our city on the cutting edge of pre-hospital emergency medical care.”

The first phase of the program, where patients were treated in the emergency room, started in January 2009. The second phase allows cardiac arrest victims to be treated in an ambulance.

Seven out of 10 patients who received the treatment left the hospital with little to no lasting mental or physical impact, according to the city, increasing survival rates by 20 percent.