USC Marathon Student Better After Cardiac Arrest
...but as Jay reached mile 18, something went terribly wrong. He grabbed his chest and collapsed onto the road. He'd suffered a cardiac arrest.
"When he arrived at the medical center, Jay was in a coma and on a ventilator, in very critical condition," Vespa said. "His brain was certainly at risk for permanent injury due to his heart attack, and we had little time to reverse this effect or even assure that he would live."
Vespa decided to use a state-of-the-art procedure known as therapeutic hypothermia on Jay to maximize his chances for recovery.
"This procedure can be lifesaving in cases like Jay's, where the brain and other organs have been deprived of oxygen for a significant amount of time and the patient is at risk of permanent organ damage or death," Vespa said. "It is not widely used because it requires specialized equipment and trained staff, but it is fully approved."
Vespa and his team inserted a catheter into a large vein and began feeding cooling fluid into Jay's body.
"The process works much like a radiator cools an engine," Vespa said. "The machine runs 24/7 and lowers the body temperature to 89.6 degrees. The cooling protects the body's organs until the brain has time to reboot. We kept Jay chilled for approximately 72 hours, at which time he awoke from his coma. Follow-up tests showed he has no permanent damage to his brain or other organs. He should have a perfect recovery.
Journal of Nursing