Sudden cardiac death, cardiac arrest

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Submitted by Dr T on February 14, 2011 – 11:00am

My father in law had a cardiac arrest in the ambulance while on the way to the hospital. The ambulance was called because he was feeling short in breath. He entered the hospital as pulseless electrical patient and was resuscitated at the hospital. They gave him sedation and put him on dialysis, ventilator and hibernation. After 48 hours he was eased off the sedation and brought back to normal temperature. Since then, the heart did not have any more problems and the brain functions seems back to normal but he is not waking up. He is not in a coma since he answers to light stimuli, blink his eyes and moves his right foot, but do not respond to pain stimuli.  If his heart and brain are ok, why he doesn’t wake up? Thank you

I am sorry to hear about your father-in-law. His heart is not “normal”, even if it seems to be functioning well right now. First, his doctors need to determine what caused the arrest, probably a severe arrhythmia causing what is called sudden cardiac death:
Likewise, it may take more testing to determine how severe his brain injury is. This is best evaluated by a neurologist, who is undoubtedly involved with his care. It may simply be too early to judge how much recovery is possible.
Hope this helps,
Dr T

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