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National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

News & Views

Therapeutic Hypothermia Approved

Therapeutic hypothermia is safe and can help prevent severe brain damage in sufferers of cardiac arrest, according to new guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) (Available from: http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/index.jsp?action=byID&o=12990).

Uncertainties amongst doctors as to the procedure’s risks compared to standard intensive care treatments have limited its adoption by certain hospitals in the NHS for the treatment of critically ill patients. NICE now recommends the technique, which involves lowering a person’s body temperature to 32-34°C post-event to reduce the risk of neurological problems.

The guidance advises that healthcare professionals could consider therapeutic hypothermia as a treatment option for people who are at risk of brain injury after cardiac arrest, under their hospital’s usual arrangements for clinical audit/research, governance and consent.

Professor Bruce Campbell, Chair of the Interventional Procedures Advisory Committee which produced the guidance for NICE said: “The evidence shows that controlled cooling of selected patients who have suffered cardiac arrest can increase their chances of survival. The therapy can also reduce the risk of severe brain damage, which can occur when blood flow to the brain is disturbed”.

“While the outcomes of therapeutic hypothermia seem to look promising, we still need to find out more about precisely which patients are most likely to benefit from its use. This is why we are encouraging further research in this area,” he continued.

NICE’s Interventional Procedures guidance does not cover whether or not the NHS should fund a procedure. Decisions about funding are taken by local NHS bodies after considering how well the procedure works and whether it represents value for money for the NHS.

Note See our previous coverage of therapeutic hypothermia in our March issue of Arrhythmia Watch (link).

Published on: April 6, 2011

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