Hypothermia under microscope for stroke treatment

Jan 5 2012

An HMRI/University of Newcastle research team is investigating the optimum use of hypothermia to reduce further brain injury to stroke patients.

Cooling the body to 32-33 degrees celcius to a state of hypothermia for between 12 to 24 hours saves lives after some forms of brain injury but unfortunately there can be some side effects, such as pneumonia or heart rhythm abnormalities.

Dr Neil Spratt and his team, in the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, have been awarded more than $422,000 from the National Health and Medical Research Council to determine the optimum amount of body cooling needed to reduce brain pressure, without inducing other side effects.
The Greater Charitable Foundation assisted with pilot funding for this project, through HMRI.

“We have found that two hours of hypothermia is successful in achieving long-lasting effects preventing pressure elevation within the skull,” Dr Spratt said.

“Through this research my team and I will determine the best temperature and duration of hypothermia needed to reduce further injury and limit other side effects.”

One in five people having a first-ever stroke die within one month and one in three die within a year.

In 2011, Australians will suffer around 60,000 new and recurrent strokes – that’s one stroke every 10 minutes.

The HMRI Stroke Research Group brings together clinical researchers from Hunter New England Health and medical researchers from the University of Newcastle as part of the Priority Research Centre for Brain and Mental Health.

HMRI is a partnership between Hunter New England Health, the University of Newcastle and the community.

Dr Neil Spratt