Scientists Close To Understanding What Happens When Body Dies

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Bobby M. Scharton, left, a platoon sergeant, assigned to the 17th Fires Brigade, 7th Infantry Division observes as Christopher Taylor, a sleep technician with Madigan Army Medical 131122-A-BB790-345Keep in mind the debate over neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander’s claims about experiencing the “Afterlife” as you review this report about what it means to die from Lee Bowman, Scripps Howard News Service (via Newsnet5):

Scientists are stretching the boundaries of understanding what happens as the body dies – and learning more about ways to perhaps interrupt the process, which takes longer than we might suppose.

Death is the final outcome for 100 percent of patients. But there’s growing evidence that revival is possible for at least some patients whose hearts and lungs have stopped working for many minutes, even hours. And brain death – when the brain irreversibly ceases function — is also proving less open and shut.

For decades, doctors have recorded cases where people immersed in very cold water have been revived after hours have gone by. Normally, brain cells start dying within a few minutes after the heart stops pumping oxygen.

Many studies have found that hypothermia protects the brain by decreasing its need for oxygen and staving off cell death. Body cooling has become common for many patients after cardiac arrest.

However, cooling more a few degrees below normal temperature can also cause cell damage.

Cardiologists are still tinkering to find the best approach. Two recent studies presented at the American Heart Association’s scientific meeting in Dallas in November tried to see whether early cooling by paramedics after they get a heart restarted is helpful (it didn’t seem affect survival or brain damage) or whether cooling to 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 96.8 degrees during the first day in the hospital brings better results (again, not much difference).

Then there’s the issue of how long to perform CPR. One 2012 study found the median duration in hospitals was 20 minutes for patients that didn’t survive; 12 minutes for those who did. The AHA recommends bystanders keep performing CPR until emergency medical services arrive.

A Japanese study presented at the AHA meeting, based on six years of data on cardiac arrest survival across Japan, concluded it is worthwhile to continue CPR for 38 minutes or longer and still have a chance to avoid major brain damage.

Defining brain death is becoming more complex as researchers find signs of activity in both human and animal subjects whose brain waves at first show they’ve “flat-lined” to the point that there is no brain function. While some doctors use the EEG as a final check for signs of life in the brain, most rely on a series of reflex and respiration tests given over several hours to determine brain death…

[continues at Newsnet5]

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7 Responses to Scientists Close To Understanding What Happens When Body Dies

  1. Kevin Leonard December 26, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    I have kept Alexander’s story in mind as reading this and one line of questioning, in particular, comes to mind:

    How do materialists reconcile the fact that auditory and visual signals and hallucinations are actually registered on EEG readings? Would there not be evidence if those having NDEs were “merely hallucinating”?

    • Calypso_1 December 26, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

      I’m not sure what you are sourcing for EEG differentiation of hallucinations, but EEG is remarkably non-specific in most cases, especially since you are only getting a surface reading unless you have probes inserted. Most studies related to hallucinations involve active stimulation with magnetic fields.
      In a surgical setting, if used at all, EEG monitoring is only 4-leads v. the 21 lead system of a standard EEG. It is a specific algorithm designed to gauge anesthetic depth and would not yield monitoring data easily usable for anything else.

      • Kevin Leonard December 26, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

        I wasn’t sourcing any differentiation, but just the fact that EEG signals are present during hallucinations (PubMed – “EEG frequency patterns associated with hallucinations in schizophrenia and “creativity” in normals.”) and are often absent during NDEs (which don’t necessarily coincide with an EEG spike).

        “It’s very unlikely that a hypoperfused brain [someone with no blood flow to the brain], with no evidence of electrical activity could generate NDEs.”
        - Dr. John Greenfield
        from an article titled “EEG EXPERT CAN’T EXPLAIN NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE DATA”

        • Calypso_1 December 26, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

          Thx, I’ll read the sources.

    • DeepCough December 26, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

      How do materialists reconcile the fact that auditory and visual signals
      and hallucinations are actually registered on EEG readings? Would there
      not be evidence if those having NDEs were “merely hallucinating”?

      I think you answered your own question there.

      • Kevin Leonard December 26, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

        Not really. But thanks for playing.

        • DeepCough December 26, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

          What, no bonus round?

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