Treating the dying

cpr.jpgThis article reminds me of the old saying, “It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden change in direction.” (…or some say the sudden stop at the bottom), but scientists have uncovered something they didn’t expect to find, that it’s not the lack of oxygen that kills you, but the attempts at resuscitation. And this might lead to changes in the way doctors treat those whose heart has stopped. “Biologists are still grappling with the implications of this new view of cell death—not passive extinguishment, like a candle flickering out when you cover it with a glass, but an active biochemical event triggered by “reperfusion,” the resumption of oxygen supply.” I think one of the more interesting lines in this report is the second to last one, “The body on the cart is dead, but its trillions of cells are all still alive.”

Of course that is all the technical side of doctors trying to save lives. On the flip side of this coin there are those signs where life is fading and how to know what to look for to understand the process of helping someone die. For instance there is evidence that hearing is one of the last senses to leave which makes talking to the dying reassuring. In either case it seems, thousands of cells are listening.