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Format: 04/24/2014
Format: 04/24/2014

News

Monroeville Times-Express: West Penn - Forbes isn't chillin' where ChillCore can save lives

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

By Michael Cristiano

Staff Writer

While seconds count in a life or death situation, it's the heat -- not of the moment, but of the victim of trauma -- that could be just as important.

With that in mind, West Penn Hospital-Forbes Campus has donated 40 Thomas EMS ChillCore units to area emergency medical service crews at a total cost of $36,000.

Chillcore, which also is designed for firefighters, enables emergency officials, paramedics in particular, to induce a mild form of hypothermia in a patient who is experiencing cardiac arrest.

Crews do this by cooling solutions and then introducing them to the patient intravenously. This allows the body temperature of the patient to be cooled before paramedics reach the hospital.

The ChillCore is basically a refrigerator unit that consists of three IV bags and rechargeable battery that lasts up to two hours.

Studies dating back as early as 2000 show that cooling the patient improves neurological outcomes, particularly in those who remain in a coma after the incident, reducing rates of death, paralysis and brain damage by as much as 30 percent, said Dr. Michael Hansen, director of the medical surgical intensive care unit at the hospital.

Target body temperatures include anywhere between 89 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit.

"The quicker that you can get them to that target temperature, the better the outcome," Hansen said.

The leading theory is that once blood begins to circulate after resuscitation, chemicals produced the body specifically for the brain cause inflammation, which could also damage the brain, Hansen said.

This process occurs when an excess of the neurotransmitter glutamate is produced as oxygen streams back into the victim's system following resuscitation.

An overabundance of those chemicals can cause cell death in a process called excitotoxicity --brought on by an event such as stroke or heart attack, spinal injury or even occurring in Alzheimer's patients.

To read more, visit the Times-Express web site.

 

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