Hypothermia Therapy in the Coronary Intensive Care Unit


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Hypothermia therapy helps mother/grandmother recover after cardiac arrest

When Brenda Stangle’s husband Terry walked into her room in the Coronary Intensive Care Unit at Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis, she said to him, “It’s amazing!”

“What?” he asked.

“Somebody was frozen,” she said.

“It was you!” he informed her.

Brenda had awakened after having her body temperature lowered from its normal 98.6 degrees to 91 degrees to minimize the damage her brain might have otherwise suffered following a cardiac arrest and heart attack. Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis is the first in the Wichita region to use hypothermia therapy to treat cardiac patients.

Stangle was at home with her husband, Terry, and daughter, Jessica Harris. After complaining of not feeling well, she first lay down, then arose only to collapse into a chair. Terry and Jessica got her to the floor to prepare to do CPR.

Jessica asked a neighbor to call 9-1-1. Trained as an LPN, she began chest compressions on her mother, who was now unresponsive. Terry, trained in CPR, performed rescue breathing until the EMTs arrived and took over. They defibrillated her mother seven times in the process of restoring her heart to a normal rhythm.

“I watched my mother die right before my eyes,” Jessica recounted.

Brenda was first transported to Susan B. Allen Hospital in El Dorado. She was then taken directly to CICU at Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis where John Flesher, MD, an intensivist, and a team of nurses began hypothermia therapy.

“The cells are trying to restore themselves and get rid of those that have been injured and sometimes they over react,” explains Darrell Youngman, DO, Stangle’s cardiologist. “Hypothermia therapy slows that process.”

According to Youngman, the therapy gives a patient who is a good candidate a 50 percent chance of survival vs. a 25 percent chance without the therapy.

“I love them for saving me,” Stangle said of her husband and daughter. The mother of three grown children and grandmother of three added, “It’s a new life. I can feel my life changing already.”

Seeing Dr. Youngman by her bedside, she turned to look at him, grasped his hand, and said, “Thank you.”

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