Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
New Brunswick • Somerset

Therapeutic Hypothermia at Somerset Campus

Don Kinsley was testing for his second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do when he felt chest and jaw pain. His wife Trish called 9-1-1. Minutes later, Kinsley collapsed from cardiac arrest.

The Branchburg rescue squad and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset's paramedics quickly responded, giving him oxygen, performing CPR and using a defibrillator to restart his heart. In the medical center's Mobile Intensive Care Unit, paramedics began administering one of the most promising new advances in cardiac care: therapeutic hypothermia.

Using ice packs and chilled saline, they lowered Kinsley's body temperature and administered sedatives to maintain the cooled state. This procedure has been shown to increase survival rates and minimize brain damage in patients resuscitated after a cardiac arrest. The patient is kept in the cooled state for 24 hours before the body is gradually rewarmed and sedatives are reduced to assess the patient's neurological function. 

A Leader in Cardiac Care
The medical center recently became one of the first in the state to administer therapeutic hypothermia before patients arrive at the hospital.

During a cardiac arrest, blood flow to the brain stops, cutting off its oxygen supply and causing cell damage. Therapeutic hypothermia slows down the body's metabolism, reduces its need for oxygen and decreases the brain's demand for blood flow. This helps minimize brain damage and increases the likelihood that the patient can return to full function

Fifty five percent of those who undergo the cooling process have a positive outcome, as compared with a 39 percent survival rate of those who do not, a New England Journal of Medicine study showed. Studies show that the sooner therapeutic hypothermia is administered, the more likely the patient will be able to preserve brain function.

When the medical center's paramedics begin therapeutic hypothermia, doctors, nurses and staff are alerted to prepare for the patient. The patient is admitted to the Emergency Department for further testing and evaluation before being transferred to the Critical Care Unit. There, a nurse monitors the patient while a machine regulates the body's temperature at a hypothermic state for 24 hours. The temperature is gradually raised back to normal.

Boucing Back
Kinsley, 50, of Clinton Township, underwent a coronary angioplasty in Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset's cardiac catheterization lab after arriving at the medical center. A stent was inserted to open a blocked artery. His body was rewarmed the next day. After time in the Critical Care Unit, Kinsley was walking and returned home after nearly two weeks in the hospital.