Patient stays conscious during CPR in distressing medical case
A patient in Denmark reportedly remained awake throughout doctors' 90 minute effort to resuscitate him via CPR, but later died due to a non functioning heart.
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK — A new Danish study is raising awareness of the rare but disturbing phenomenon of patients being awake during CPR.
At the Euroanaesthesia congress in Copenhagen, anaesthesiologist Dr. Rune Sarauw Lundsgaard presented the case of a 69-year-old man who went to the hospital after three days of indigestion symptoms, but suffered cardiac arrest while being admitted, CNN reports.
A medical team immediately began chest compressions. CPR was administered over the next 90 minutes, with the patient reportedly showing signs of conscious awareness.
A high level of awareness during CPR is extremely rare, according to experts, since blood flow to the brain is often insufficient.
Strangely, the man's heart remained non functioning and without electrical activity, which caused him to lose consciousness each time doctors held off on CPR.
Despite being given several shots of epinephrine, his heart failed to restart on its own. The man eventually died after compressions were stopped for good.
An autopsy later revealed that the patient had suffered a complete aortic dissection, a lethal condition in which blood is forced between the inner and outer aorta layers.
Since the decision to terminate CPR happened while the man was still conscious, it raised serious ethical questions, including the use of sedation when resuscitating patients.
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