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Man Survives After 96 Minutes With No Pulse, And His Brain Is Undamaged

 A man who was without a pulse for 96 minutes after collapsing from cardiac arrest not only lived, he lived without sustaining any brain damage.

The Wall Street Journal explained the details of this seemingly miraculous rescue in a recent story headlined “96 Minutes Without A Heartbeat.” And The Journal attributed the successful revival of Howard Snitzer, 54, of Minnesota to what the paper called “a little-known device” called a capnograph.

The bottom line is that a capnograph measures the amount of carbon dioxide a person is breathing out of his or her mouth. In a case of cardiac arrest where CPR is being performed, the capnograph essentially tells medics if their efforts are keeping a patient’s blood circulating. If they aren’t, it means they should stop CPR. But if the carbon dioxide is above a certain level, it means they should continue rescue efforts, that blood is still getting to vital organs such as the brain.

In Snitzer’s case, the capnograph played a crucial role. He suffered cardiac arrest outside a grocery store in January. Two volunteer firemen came to his aid immediately, followed by police and firefighters from adjacent towns and a team from the Mayo Clinic, which arrived via copter, according to The Journal.

They struggled for 96 minutes to get Snitzer’s heart going again, shocking him with a defibrillator a dozen times. They kept on because the capnograph told them that “air coming out of Mr. Snitzer’s lungs had healthy levels of carbon dioxide — strong evidence that CPR was effectively moving oxygenated blood to his brain and other organs,” The Journal reported.

That was crucial since, as The Journal pointed out and any traumatic brain injury lawyer knows, the concern when someone’s heart stops is to make sure the brain gets oxygen.

Snitzer, according to his doctors, has had a complete recovery in what is described as the “longest duration of pulselessness in an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest with a good outcome,” The Journal reported. 


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