Paramedics to Chill Heart Attack Victims

Houston EMS officials have a new way to help heart attack victims. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports cooling the body increases the chance of survival.

Click to Listen

The goal is to get the body temperature down to about 90 or 92 degrees. EMS Physician Director Doctor David Persse says the cooling process starts with ice packs on the body.

"And we also start an IV, which we would have anways for the cardiac arrest, but in the IV we infuse saline which is chilled to just a couple of degrees above freezing, so about 37, 38, 34 degrees.  And what we believe it does is that by cooling the patient it slows down the metabolism of the organs in particular the brain."

This means less damage and a better chance of recovery. The hospital continues to cool the
patient. The person is sedated while chilled for 24 hours. 

This hypothermic treatment is not for every heart attack patient. Persse says trauma patients or people with other medical problems should not be cooled.  It can cause complications in those cases. Persse says paramedics are using the cooling procedure about every other day.

Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Capella Tucker

Capella Tucker

Director of Content

Capella Tucker joined KUHF in the spring of 1994 as a part-time reporter. She quickly gained a full-time position when she took over production duties for

  • Read More By Author
  • Email Author
  • Read Full Bio