NOV 08, 2017 5:09 AM PST

Brain Activity Predicts Who Will and Who Won't Survive Cardiac Arrest

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Mapping and measuring the interaction between very specific parts of the brain while a cardiac arrest survivor is comatose could help scientists predict which patients will survive, which won’t, and which will live the rest of their lives with debilitating neurological problems.

MRI scan of a human head. Credit: Helmut Januschka

From Johns Hopkins University, scientists used the quantitative brain mapping capabilities of functional MRIs to measure and record changes in tissue structure, blood flow, and functional activation with remarkable precision and accuracy.

With this data, says senior author Robert Stevens, MD, researchers could “see where brain network disruption is occurring, and determine how these changes relate to the likelihood of recovery from brain damage.”

The present study focused on patients recovering following a cardiac arrest, but the new brain mapping protocol could also predict reliable “long-term recovery trajectories” for people recovering from heart attack, stroke, brain hemorrhage, or trauma.

Unlike a heart attack, where a disruption in blood flow blocks oxygenated blood from reaching the heart, cardiac arrest is a sudden loss of a heartbeat that can lead to death in minutes.

Stevens notes several factors that influence the chance of survival and the amount of brain damage a person will incur, including how quickly and how well a person in cardiac arrest receives resuscitation and how well body temperature is regulated to avoid fever. Existing technologies to predict recovery following cardiac arrest are few and far between.

Stevens and others conducted their study with 46 patients in a coma following cardiac arrest, all with an average age of 49. Between one and two weeks after each patient’s cardiac arrest, researchers assessed their brain’s functional activation. They focused on four networks in the brain involved in using energy to focus attention, being at rest, initiating tasks, rewards and inhibition, and determining the importance of stimuli.

Researchers continued with a follow-up one year after the cardiac arrests to assess overall survival. Compared to the others, eleven of the original 46 had favorable outcomes, with little to no neurological disability and higher connectivity with the brain region associated with being at rest as well as so-called anti-correlation between other networks, which means that while one is active the other is not.

"These findings highlight a potential realm of precision medicine using brain network biomarkers that are discriminative and predictive of outcomes," explained lead author Haris Sair, MD. "In the future, connectivity biomarkers may help guide new therapies for targeted treatment to improve brain function."

The present study was published in the journal Radiology.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
FEB 21, 2020
Cardiology
FEB 21, 2020
Poor Sleep Increases Heart Disease Risk in Women
Researchers from Columbia University Irving Medical Center have found that women who don’t sleep well leading tend ...
MAR 03, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
MAR 03, 2020
Smoking Cannabis Accelerates Biological Age
Although cannabis is increasingly recognized for its medicinal properties, it should only be used after considering its ...
MAR 13, 2020
Cardiology
MAR 13, 2020
Heart Cancer, A Rarity
Cardiac tumors are generally considered rare, happening in only one in 500 cardiac surgery cases. These growths are ofte ...
MAR 20, 2020
Cardiology
MAR 20, 2020
Exercise For Persons With COPD
The thought of starting an exercise program can be daunting, particularly for those who have been diagnosed with chronic ...
APR 13, 2020
Cardiology
APR 13, 2020
Computer Model Predicts How Drugs Affect Heart Rhythm
Cardiotoxicity, heart electrophysiology dysfunction or muscle damage,  is one of the most common reasons why drugs ...
MAY 20, 2020
Cardiology
MAY 20, 2020
Hearts Beat Differently to Music
Does some music relax you, does other music excite you? There is a physiological response to music, and your heart may b ...
Loading Comments...