Heart Health

Therapeutic Hypothermia

What is Therapeutic Hypothermia?

Therapeutic hypothermia is a type of treatment used in patients who experience sudden cardiac arrest—lowering the body temperature immediately after cardiac arrest allows healthcare providers to reduce the probability of injury and long-term brain damage.

What happens during Therapeutic Hypothermia?

During therapeutic hypothermia, a sedative is administered to induce sleep and keep the body from shivering. The patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs will be closely monitored during the procedure. Using cooling blankets, ice packs, or internal cooling methods, the patient’s body temperature will be brought down as quickly as possible to around 89℉ to 93℉. After 12 to 24 hours, the medical team will gradually rewarm the body until a healthy temperature is reached. Since the body does not always respond to treatment right away, healthcare providers often wait 3 days after the procedure to examine the effect cardiac arrest may have had on the brain. This procedure does not guarantee that the patient will regain brain function.

What are the risks of Therapeutic Hypothermia?

Though the risks associated with therapeutic hypothermia rare, they include:

  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Sepsis
  • Bleeding caused by an inability to form blood clots
  • Electrolyte and metabolic issues
  • Raised blood sugar levels
  • Imbalance of pH levels in the body


These risks vary based on age and underlying health conditions. Ask your healthcare provider about the risks that are specific to you.

Talk to one of our providers about the non-invasive treatment options available through Baptist Health.