Research presented at the Amercian Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2009 event could help prevent both younger and older persons from suffering brain damage during cardiac arrest.
When a person experiences a sudden loss in heart function, it might be possible to protect them from brain damage by quickly cooling their body.
"We now have a method that is safe and can be started within minutes of cardiac arrest to minimize damage during this very critical period," said Dr Maaret Castren, the lead author of the study.
The researchers examined 200 adult patients who went into cardiac arrest.
Some were given regular resuscitation, while others received resuscitation and cooling using a new tool called RhinoChill that lowers the temperature of the brain. The average age of the patients was 66 years old and 71 percent were male.
About 47 percent of the patients who were cooled survived their incident, which is roughly 16 percent more than those who received conventional resuscitation. Approximately 37 percent of those cooled were in good mental condition afterward, while about 79 percent of those who received regular treatment weren't.
The Mayo Clinic says cardiac arrest usually results from an electrical disturbance in the heart that stops blood flow.