It is not unusual for stroke or heart attack patients to survive the initial crisis then, end up with brain damage because of the time their brain was deprived of oxygen. For years, scientists have known that hypothermia helps,in which the patient is chilled to help prevent damage. Today, a new technology makes cooling a patient much more precise and safer. It's called the Arctic Sun. A machine circulates chilled water through special pads wrapped around the patient's legs and abdomen, and researchers say dropping the body temperature just a few degrees for up to 24 hours can have a dramatic effect especially in cardiac arrest patients where the brain may be deprived of oxygen long enough to cause damage even more extensive than from a stroke.
"Clinical trials have shown that if you get cooled within 6 hours of resuscitation, you're more likely to live, and more likely to make a good recovery and go home one day," says Dr. Steven Mayer a neurologist. Cooling a victim has been proven to protect the brain after cardiac arrest,but the proof in stroke patients is still being gathered. In any case, the key to protecting a brain is getting to a hospital as soon as symptoms of a stroke appear,because any time that is lost may also mean brain tissue is lost.