Researcher finds five key topics in how people experience cardiac arrest

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Researcher finds five key topics in how people experience cardiac arrest
Researcher finds five key topics in how people experience cardiac arrest
17 November, 21:15SciencePhoto: Getty Images/iStockphoto
“There is a unique memory of death. These are not hallucinations, not illusions, not delusions, but real experiences that arise when you die”, - says the author of the study.

Dr. Sam Parnia of NYU Langone Health has spent 20 years conducting research to find out how ICU patients feel when they are caught between life and death, reports the Daily Mail.

At the first stage, 567 people from the US and the UK who survived cardiac arrest and resuscitation became participants in the study. While patients were given artificial respiration, brain monitoring devices attached to their bodies recorded signals that the brain was receiving information. Only 53 people—less than 10% of the original participants—survived to be discharged from the hospital. Of these, 25 were unable to participate in the further study due to ill health. Therefore, only 28 people told about their feelings during cardiac arrest two weeks later - a month after this experience. They all took an intelligence test to determine if their brains were functioning properly and then answered questions.

“We analyzed the testimonies of the participants and determined that there is a unique memory of death,” says the author of the study. “It is different from other experiences that people might have in a hospital or anywhere else. These are not hallucinations, not illusions, not delusions, but real experiences that arise when you die.”

There were five key themes in the patients' experience. Many at this time took an inner look at their lives, remembering the brightest moments and assessing their relationships with other people. Others felt they were "heading for a destination" that felt like home. Still others were aware that they were being given artificial respiration and heard the doctors talking. One woman heard her deceased grandmother tell her to return to her body. Some of the "memories" in this case were caused by extraneous sensations - so one patient said that he "burned in hell", which was most likely a reaction to the burning sensation from the potassium drip.

Five Key Topics Remembered by Patients Who Survived Cardiac Arrest

  1. Feeling the impact of artificial respiration
  2. Conversations of doctors who are involved in resuscitation
  3. What happens in the intensive care unit after resuscitation
  4. Assessing their lives and the impact they have had on others
  5. The feeling of being on your way to a destination that some felt like home

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