Cool Device from San Diego’s BeneChill May Improve Odds for Cardiac Arrest Victims

12/16/09

Research over the last several years has shown that lowering the temperatures of unconscious cardiac arrest patients improves their odds of survival without brain damage. This intervention commonly begins in the hospital because most temperature-lowering technologies (water-filled blankets, blood-cooling machines) are not suited for use by ambulance crews.

San Diego-based BeneChill wants to put temperature-lowering equipment in the hands of emergency medical technicians so hypothermic therapy can begin before patients reach intensive care. The company’s device is inserted into the nose like an oxygen-prong, where it delivers a coolant that lowers the temperature of the brain. BeneChill founder and CEO Denise Barbut says the battery-operated device is portable and easy to use.

BeneChill cooling device

BeneChill cooling device

“You just shove it up the nostrils,” says Barbut, who is also a neurologist. “It can be given by the EMS [emergency medical system] or whoever is there. You don’t need a fancy doctor and a fancy hospital.”

A recently completed randomized study of 200 adults in cardiac arrest suggests the device can reduce the possibility of brain damage. The best results were seen among the 137 patients who received CPR within 10 minutes of cardiac arrest. In that group, 45.5 percent of those treated with the device were neurologically intact at hospital discharge, compared to 17.6 percent of those who were not treated with it. The outcome was statistically significant, meaning it was unlikely the result was due to chance.

The study, which was conducted in Europe, was presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando last month. “Our results show the … Next Page »

Denise Gellene is a former Los Angeles Times science writer and regular contributor to Xconomy. You can reach her at dgellene@xconomy.com Follow @

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