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      Accidental hypothermia–an update : The content of this review is endorsed by the International Commission for Mountain Emergency Medicine (ICAR MEDCOM)

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          This paper provides an up-to-date review of the management and outcome of accidental hypothermia patients with and without cardiac arrest.


          The authors reviewed the relevant literature in their specialist field. Summaries were merged, discussed and approved to produce this narrative review.


          The hospital use of minimally-invasive rewarming for non-arrested, otherwise healthy, patients with primary hypothermia and stable vital signs has the potential to substantially decrease morbidity and mortality for these patients. Extracorporeal life support (ECLS) has revolutionised the management of hypothermic cardiac arrest, with survival rates approaching 100 % in some cases. Hypothermic patients with risk factors for imminent cardiac arrest (temperature <28 °C, ventricular arrhythmia, systolic blood pressure <90 mmHg), and those who have already arrested, should be transferred directly to an ECLS-centre. Cardiac arrest patients should receive continuous cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) during transfer. If prolonged transport is required or terrain is difficult, mechanical CPR can be helpful. Delayed or intermittent CPR may be appropriate in hypothermic arrest when continuous CPR is impossible. Modern post-resuscitation care should be implemented following hypothermic arrest. Structured protocols should be in place to optimise pre-hospital triage, transport and treatment as well as in-hospital management, including detailed criteria and protocols for the use of ECLS and post-resuscitation care.


          Based on new evidence, additional clinical experience and clearer management guidelines and documentation, the treatment of accidental hypothermia has been refined. ECLS has substantially improved survival and is the treatment of choice in the patient with unstable circulation or cardiac arrest.

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          Most cited references 260

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          Therapeutic hypothermia and controlled normothermia in the intensive care unit: practical considerations, side effects, and cooling methods.

          Hypothermia is being used with increasing frequency to prevent or mitigate various types of neurologic injury. In addition, symptomatic fever control is becoming an increasingly accepted goal of therapy in patients with neurocritical illness. However, effectively controlling fever and inducing hypothermia poses special challenges to the intensive care unit team and others involved in the care of critically ill patients. To discuss practical aspects and pitfalls of therapeutic temperature management in critically ill patients, and to review the currently available cooling methods. Review article. None. Cooling can be divided into three distinct phases: induction, maintenance, and rewarming. Each has its own risks and management problems. A number of cooling devices that have reached the market in recent years enable reliable maintenance and slow and controlled rewarming. In the induction phase, rapid cooling rates can be achieved by combining cold fluid infusion (1500-3000 mL 4 degrees C saline or Ringer's lactate) with an invasive or surface cooling device. Rapid induction decreases the risks and consequences of short-term side effects, such as shivering and metabolic disorders. Cardiovascular effects include bradycardia and a rise in blood pressure. Hypothermia's effect on myocardial contractility is variable (depending on heart rate and filling pressure); in most patients myocardial contractility will increase, although mild diastolic dysfunction can develop in some patients. A risk of clinically significant arrhythmias occurs only if core temperature decreases below 30 degrees C. The most important long-term side effects of hypothermia are infections (usually of the respiratory tract or wounds) and bedsores. Temperature management and hypothermia induction are gaining importance in critical care medicine. Intensive care unit physicians, critical care nurses, and others (emergency physicians, neurologists, and cardiologists) should be familiar with the physiologic effects, current indications, techniques, complications and practical issues of temperature management, and induced hypothermia. In experienced hands the technique is safe and highly effective.
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            Part 12: cardiac arrest in special situations: 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care.

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              Accidental hypothermia.

               D F Danzl,  R Pozos (1994)

                Author and article information

                Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med
                Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med
                Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine
                BioMed Central (London )
                15 September 2016
                15 September 2016
                : 24
                [1 ]Department of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Innsbruck University Hospital, Anichstr. 35, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
                [2 ]Barts Heart Centre, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, West Smithfield, Barts Health NHS Trust, Queen Mary University of London, KGV Building, Office 10, 1st floor, West Smithfield, London, EC1A 7BE UK
                [3 ]International Commission of Mountain Emergency Medicine (ICAR MEDCOM), Kloten, Switzerland
                [4 ]Department of Anaesthesia, University hospitals, Morecambe Bay Trust, Lancaster, UK
                [5 ]Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team, Ambleside, UK
                [6 ]Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine, EURAC research, Drususallee 1, Bozen/Bolzano, Italy
                [7 ]Department of Emergency Medicine, Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, Bern, Switzerland
                [8 ]Department of Surgery, Cardiovascular Research, Service of Cardiovascular Surgery, University Hospital Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
                [9 ]Department of Cardiothoracic Anaesthesia and Intensive Care 4142, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark
                [10 ]Department of Emergency Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
                [11 ]Department of Emergency Medicine, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
                [12 ]Department of Neurology, Neurologic Intensive Care Unit, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
                © The Author(s). 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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