X-Message-Number: 14391
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2000 22:01:55 -0400
From: Jan Coetzee <>
Subject: Cooling Stroke Victims Can Save Cells 

Cooling Stroke Victims Can Save Cells

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lowering a stroke patient's body temperature by
just two degrees
Fahrenheit within a few hours of the attack can reduce brain damage and
the risk of death, Danish
researchers said on Thursday.

Other studies have shown that lower temperatures can reduce traumatic
damage to cells. And
doctors have tried using hypothermia in unconscious, anesthetized stroke

But Dr. Lars Kammersgaard and colleagues at Bispebjerg Hospital in
Copenhagen wanted to see
if the approach would work in a conscious patient.

Writing in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, Kammersgaard
and colleagues said
they cooled down 17 patients by pumping cool air into a thermal blanket
to induce mild

The patients were kept cool for six hours, and then watched to see how
they did.

Over six months, the patients who were cooled survived twice as well as
those who did not,
Kammersgaard said.

``By showing that hypothermia can be successfully used without
anesthesia, we have suggested a
method of treatment that appears to be low in cost and applicable in
most hospitals involved in
stroke treatment,'' he said in a statement.

``By reducing the body temperature in the stroke patient, the brain
receives cooled blood,'' he
added. ``Animal studies involving hypothermia strongly suggest that
decreased brain temperature
causes less destruction of brain tissue.''

They said more studies will have to be done involving many more people
before doctors can say
for sure that stroke patients should be cooled off.

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