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A “Chilling” Discovery Saves Cardiac Arrest Patients

Posted on: August 9th, 2016


Mario Munguia is a 43-year old with no prior history of heart disease. In February, Mario was complaining of what he believed to be indigestion.  He rested for a while but got up thinking that walking around would help ease his discomfort.  He collapsed on the floor.Frantic attempts were made to get help.  Mario’s wife, Mandy, called 911 with one phone, and family who lives nearby with the other.  CPR was attempted first by Mandy and then a first-responder who lived nearby and heard the 911 dispatch.By the time the first-responder arrived at the Munguia’s Adel home, Mario’s had been down for approximately 10 minutes. He was in cardiac arrest. The paramedics arrived shortly thereafter and were able to resuscitate him by administering three rounds of electric shock to his heart.  The cardiac resuscitation restored his heart beat and breathing, but Mario wasn’t out of danger, yet. He was transported to South Georgia Medical Center. Affiliated physicians at SGMC used a revolutionary technique called “Code Cool” to help save Mario’s life.  The process involves “induced hypothermia,” whereby the patient’s core body temperature is lowered to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. As a cardiac intervention, induced hypothermia decreases the brain’s demand for oxygen.  It slows the inflammatory process and minimizes swelling in the patient’s brain.  At SGMC, Code Cool involves the use of highly-specialized cooling blankets and monitoring technology. In this instance, SGMC’s Neurohospitalist Dr. Brian Dawson worked closely with affiliated Emergency Physician Dr. Ray Gutierrez and affiliated Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Joel Cohen to manage Mario’s care.  According to Dr. Dawson, therapeutic hypothermia doubles the likelihood of the patient being functionally independent six months following the cardiac arrest.Dr. Dawson explained that Code Cool isn’t used in every heart attack situation.  Certain criteria must be met. Code Cool is especially useful in cases where the patient suffers an out-of-the hospital cardiac arrest and efforts to perform CPR were ineffective or delayed. “Typically, a person is more likely to suffer permanent brain damage if he or she goes longer than five minutes without a heartbeat to supply blood and oxygen to the brain,” explained Dr. Dawson. Very few individuals who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survive, because it usually takes longer than five minutes to get to a hospital emergency room. And among those who survive, about 1 in 10 will have severe brain damage due to swelling and inflammation.”In Mario’s case, the dose of cold saved his life. Eleven days later, he walked out of the hospital. He has experienced a significant recovery and is working again as a supervisor in the agricultural industry.Mario said, “I appreciate every day I wake up.  I thank God, and I thank the doctors. I feel good.”