Monday, June 23, 2008
Medical Reports: Cooling cure
It's a cool new way to save the lives of heart attack patients. Doctors are now chilling the body to prevent brain damage after cardiac arrest. Tonight, Seven's Richard Lemus takes us into the emergency room for a look at this new Cooling Cure.
WSVN -- No one usually sees a heart attack coming. Especially a young father like Israel Markowitz who's healthy and an active soccer player.
Gail Markowitz: "A massive heart attack is the last thing I expected on that Sunday morning that he left to play."
Israel recently went into cardiac arrest right after finishing up a soccer game. When his wife got the news, it wasn't just his heart she was worried about.
Gail Markowitz: "Your heart can repair itself. It's a muscle, but your brain can not heal itself."
Doctors admit they're usually able to get a patient's heart pumping again, but it's much harder to save them from brain damage.
Dr. Mazyar Rouhan, E.R. Medical Director, the Cleveland Clinic: "Patients that have cardiac arrest have lack of blood flow to the brain, and therefore develop neurological disability. It's important time frame-wise to get to these patients usually within four to six minutes to restart their heart and preserve brain function."
Doctors now know cooling the body after a heart attack can save lives and minimize brain damage. That's because rapidly lowering core body temperature reduces the amount of toxins produced by the brain. But, until now, the only way to do that was to either use ice packs or a cooling blanket.
Dr. Mazyar Rouhan: "The problem was that you can't precisely control someone's body temp by externally cooling them."
Now hospitals like South Florida's Cleveland Clinic are using a breakthrough machine called an intravascular cooling system that chills patients internally.
Dr. Mazyar Rouhan: "It's a catheter that is placed into the patient's groin when the patient arrives in the E.R. Once that line is placed, we are able to infuse cool saline and also control the temperature between 32 to 34 degrees Celsius."
Israel was one of the clinic's first patients to have this new brain-saving procedure after his heart attack, and while he's still on the road to recovery physically, he's thankful to be alive and mentally sharp.
Israel Markowitz: "I am very, very glad that I don't have any permanent brain damage. I am very, very happy to be here."
Some paramedics are also using this cooling effect in the field.
Broward Sheriff's Fire Rescue is one of only five in the nation to start cooling heart attack victims as soon as they arrive on the scene.