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Hypothermia treatment for stroke patients

A growing number of studies show that cooling down patients suffering from oxygen loss, stroke, and spinal cord and traumatic brain injury can ease damaging effects, but larger trials still need to be conducted.

Increasingly, doctors are using or considering the hypothermia technique for a variety of emergencies beyond full cardiac arrest.

Doctors are testing the use of therapeutic hypothermia with stroke patients. There are preliminary studies suggesting it provides benefits to stroke victims, but more testing needs to take place.

It appears that the treatment works best when started immediately. Yet stroke patients often don't reach the emergency room until several hours after their symptoms start. By then, brain damage may have already occurred.

Another difficulty in utilizing this treatment for stroke victims is that  stroke patients are usually awake. Hypothermia is excruciating for a conscious person, and the inevitable shivers can counter cooling efforts. Doctors must therefore use medication to sedate patients.

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