Cooling Therapy Yields Dramatic Results - Cone Health

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Published on March 16, 2012

Cooling Therapy Yields Dramatic Results

On Aug. 9 of last year, Michael Melton celebrated what he calls his second birthday.

Two years before, on Aug. 9, 2009, firefighters, EMS and the highly trainedMichael Melton staff at Cone Health brought him back to life with a dramatic new treatment for sudden cardiac arrest.

Cone Health was the first health system in the Triad to offer therapeutic hypothermia, which saves brain function in patients who would otherwise likely die from cardiac arrest.

Melton, 58, has little memory of the day his heart suddenly stopped beating. He was walking to lunch, when his co-workers at the car dealership saw him “fall straight back, like a tree falling in the woods.”

His friends called 911 and did CPR until first responders arrived. After shocking his heart twice and restoring his heartbeat, first responders started an IV of cold saline – the first step in life-saving “cooling” therapy.

After Melton arrived at The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, emergency and intensive care staff continued the hypothermia therapy, lowering his body temperature to about 91 degrees Fahrenheit with special cooling pads.

Cooling slows the body’s metabolism, decreasing the brain’s need for oxygen and glucose by up to 50 percent. This gives the brain a “break” and also protects it from damage as the injured cells recover..

“The majority of these people would not have woken up or would have lived a very poor quality of life,” says Dan Feinstein, MD, a critical care physician who helped launch the hypothermia program in February 2009. “This treatment is really making a difference.”

It goes hand in hand with the outstanding care Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center offers all heart patients.

When Melton woke up after 24 hours of cooling, he had some short-term memory loss at first, but it’s all come back. He still visits the firefighters, EMS, nurses and physicians who brought him back to life – especially on holidays and his new “birthday.”

“I’m just very thankful for everything these groups did,” he says. “I have a new grandchild that I would have never seen if I had not received such exceptional care on that day. I’m very pleased to have received a second chance.”

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