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Barcelona: British woman revived six-hours after heart stops beating

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Patient Audrey Schoeman with doctor after revival

DTMT Network
Doctors in Barcelona, Spain, have saved a 34-year-old British woman six-hour after hypothermia cardiac arrest while hiking in the Catalan Pyrenees with her husband in freezing weather in November 2019.

She was treated at Vall d’Hebron hospital and revived by the doctors by using defibrillator. Doctors have said that this is the first documented and exceptional case in Spain where a patient has survived after her heart stopped beating for six hours.

Hypothermia is defined as a core temperature below 35°C (95°F), and can be further classified by severity.

Dr KK Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India, said that around lunchtime, after the temperature dropped and it began to snow, Rohan noticed that his wife, Mrs Audrey Schoeman, was speaking oddly and becoming incoherent.

Dr Aggarwal added, “Shortly afterwards, she stopped moving and fell unconscious. He rang friends, who helped firefighters and rescuers locate them and launch a helicopter rescue operation.”

“But bad weather delayed the rescue and by the time they reached the pair, it was 3.30 pm. By that point, she had severe hypothermia and her body temperature had fallen to just 18C (64.4 F). The normal body temperature is 37C.  She was then taken by helicopter to the Vall d’Hebron hospital in Barcelona, which has an extra corporeal membrane oxygenation machine (Ecmo),” explained Dr Aggarwal.

“But by 9.45pm, her body temperature had risen to 30C (86F) and the doctors tried again to successfully revive her, using a defibrillator,” he said.

Dr Aggarwal pointed out the scientific fact that the low body temperatures preserve the brain and such people can be revived with CPR and defibrillation after bringing the temperature up. The lesson which the doctors should learn is that they should never miss hypothermia before declaring death.

Dr Aggarwal said that rough handling of the moderate or severe hypothermic patient can precipitate arrhythmias, including ventricular fibrillations, which are often unresponsive to defibrillation and medications.

He advised that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should continue until the patient is rewarmed to 30 to 32°C (86 to 90°F), at which point renewed attempts at defibrillation and resuscitation with ACLS medications are undertaken. The neuroprotective effects of low temperature may allow recovery following prolonged arrest.


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