The blog, Seyisanchez, claims that:

According to the latest available statistics, nearly twice as many patients are resuscitated [at Stony Brook University Hospital in New York] every year compared to other U.S. hospitals — the average resuscitation rate at Stony Brook is an astounding 33 percent, which contrasts sharply with the 18 percent average elsewhere. So how does it all work? The techniques [Dr. Sam Parnia] advocates are not cryogenics – freezing the body immediately after death – but cooling it down to best preserve brain cells while keeping up the level of oxygen in the blood. This buys time to fix the underlying problem and restart the heart, he claims.

Also, from here, the Dr. Parnia restates his claim (along with more detailed explanation of the cooling process):

With today's medicine, we can bring people back to life up to one, maybe two hours, sometimes even longer, after their heart stopped beating and they have thus died by circulatory failure.

Is this true?

  • I've heard it stated: "You're not dead until you're warm and dead."
    – shieldfoss
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 7:59
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    Thanks. That's a bit clearer. However, the first quote seems to be distracting from the claim you're actually interested in, and is mostly just questions, rather than assertions. I'll edit it out, because I think it will focus the question on an individual notable claim.
    – user5582
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 19:46
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    A useful introduction may be en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therapeutic_hypothermia -- I found the term when I read space.com/…
    – ChrisW
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 19:47
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    @Wertliq: Now that the question has been clarified, I think an appropriate definition would be the English Wikipedia one cited by Jan above. The Swedish version begs the question by defining it as irreversible.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 1:46
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    @Oddthinking If it helps, Dr. Parnia explained in his interview what he means: "A person immediately loses consciousness, breathing stops as well, and within seconds, the brain ceases working, even at the very basic level of the brain stem. The pupils become fixed and dilated. The EEG shows a flatline. This person is now dead...". I think it's close enough to Jan's definition above.
    – user5582
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


A 4 years old child broke through the ice of the frozen lake. He was rescued from the water and transported to the hospital by a helicopter. Initial findings:

Whole body cooling for 72 hours was associated with less brain damage in infants who suffered from brain ischemic injury during delivery compared with no cooling. The effect of whole-body cooling on brain metabolism following perinatal hypoxic–ischemic injury

Cerebral hypothermia can safely improve intact survival in term infants with neonatal encephalopathy. Beneficial effects of hypothermia:

  • Decrease of basal metabolic rate (~7% for each °C), which means lower oxygen consumption in the cells and therefore prolonged cell survival when the oxygen delivery to the cells is impaired
  • Slowed inflammation process Clinical applications of induced hypothermia

From the same source (oxfordjournals.org) from y.2006:

The admission body temperature seems to be a major determinant for long-term mortality after stroke. They concluded that ‘hypothermic therapy in the early stage, in which body temperature is kept low for a longer period after stroke onset, could be a long-lasting neuroprotective measure’. Since then, there have been numerous animal models and some preliminary studies but no conclusive results. The Cochrane review stated that further trials were indicated.

Here's another short story. A woman was clinically dead (no heart rhythm, no breathing). Paramedics used the Arctic Sun technology (they wrapped her in some sort of "cloth" that can be filled with a cold fluid) and thus induced hypothermia. The woman has survived. Practically no technical data (time, woman's age, the underlying disease - supposedly heart arrhythmia...) are provided, though. From Clinical Death to Restored Life

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    It is a remarkable story. However, it is just an (well-documented) anecdote. It doesn't prove your claims.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 15:59
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    I added two investigations which proved the effect of therapeutic hypothermia on reducing the extent of brain damage.
    – Jan
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 16:23
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    Your first case is an example of something that has been pretty well established--sufficient chilling at the time of the problem sometimes has an amazing protective effect. The younger the person the more likely it happens. That doesn't address whether there's any benefit to using it in the ER. I also recall reading about it's deliberate use in the OR for some brain operations. Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 3:12

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