Extreme Cold Helps Stroke Patients

Deanne Stein Health Guide
  • Winter has arrived. We finally got some cold weather, not that that’s a good thing. It’s been bitter cold, one of my water pipes broke and there is snow and ice everywhere. Aside from the problems, it’s very pretty though. I think the only people enjoying this stuff are the kids, who have had a couple of snow days and several delays to sleep in.

    For me, the cold weather only makes it tougher at work. On snowy days, though, I don’t have to wonder what story I’m going to do. We center our newscast on the weather. Everything is weather, weather, and weather. Which is okay, I guess, considering there is nothing going on.
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    One of my stories was about hypothermia and how to stay safe while out in the cold. Being a stroke survivor, I looked into problems the cold could have on me. Basically it was the same as anyone. It’s best to dress in layers and wear hats and gloves. Also, you shouldn’t stay out in the cold any longer than you have to. I found typical, common sense tips.

    What I did find in my research though is that extreme cold can be good for a stroke patient. I had no idea.

    Preliminary studies have shown techniques that cool the brain or body may improve outcomes for stroke patients in several different situations. For example, surgeons operating on stroke patients to correct cerebral vascular malformation and aneurysms are finding if they first chill the patient’s brain he or she may be less likely to suffer another stroke during the surgery. Inducing hypothermia may also give the surgeon extra time to operate.

    Other studies of patients who are comatose after a cardiac arrest have shown that chilling their entire bodies improves their chances of a better neurological recovery. This has led to other doctors trying to cool down stroke patients. However, doctors are now trying to determine how long and to what degree the body should be cooled and whether the risks of cooling outweigh the benefits in stroke patients.
Published On: February 20, 2007