Face cooling may temporarily prevent cardiovascular shutdown following blood loss

Applying ice water to the face may be a simple and quick method for first responders to temporarily prevent cardiovascular shutdown in casualties who have lost a lot of blood. Such a tool could be an effective way to buy time until the patient – whether in a civilian or combat setting – receives proper medical care.

This was the conclusion that researchers at the University at Buffalo, NY, came to after conducting preliminary tests with healthy volunteers who underwent a simulation of moderate blood loss.

The findings featured at the recent Experimental Biology 2017 meeting in Chicago, IL, and they are also reported in an abstract published in a supplement to the FASEB Journal.

The researchers explain that blood loss causes central hypovolemia – a condition in which there is a drop in blood volume in the heart and in the blood vessels of the lungs.

In severe instances, blood loss can also decrease blood pressure and result in cardiovascular decompensation – a condition that is caused by a sudden and steep drop in blood pressure and results in insufficient oxygen supply to the brain, heart, and other vital organs.

Even when the bleeding has stopped, there may still be a significant risk of cardiovascular decompensation.

Estimates for the United States suggest that after a traumatic injury, the number of deaths due to hemorrhage, or blood loss, is second only to that caused by central nervous system injury. Over 35 percent of pre-hospital deaths are due to blood loss, as are over 40 percent of deaths that occur in the first 24 hours of the injury.

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