Doctors and nurses in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital (RBH) are at the forefront of a worldwide study that could revolutionise the way unconscious cardiac arrest survivors are cared for within the NHS.
The ICU team was one of 36 teams across Europe and Australia who took part in a study to examine whether keeping unconscious cardiac arrest survivors very cold is as necessary as current guidelines suggest.
Over 950 patients were monitored for two and a half years, with the outcomes of patients kept at 33 degrees compared with a similar group kept at 36 degrees. Results showed those treated at 36 degrees were no worse off.
RBH consultant Dr Julius Cranshaw was one of the five UK lead investigators in the trial. He said: “Until now, science and limited patient clinical trials supported the idea that being kept cold when unconscious would protect the brain from further damage after cardiac arrest.
“Current international guidance also reflects that view: cold is good – so you might assume more cold would be even better? Not necessarily. The result of this new large trial casts this idea into doubt. The next steps will be to determine how we can improve brain protection for patients.”
RBH research nurse for the study, Emma Willett, said: “It’s very exciting to think the Royal Bournemouth Hospital could play an invaluable role in changing international guidelines on the treatment of cardiac arrest patients.
“The success of this research could not have happened without all the hard work and support from everyone working in the Intensive Care Unit and Molecular Pathology teams.
“The biggest thank you however must go to all the relatives and patients who agreed to participate in this study at what was a very traumatic and distressing time for them.”
Further trial results of the risks and benefits of being cooled will be released in 2014.