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Face Cooling May Counter CV Decompensation

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 09 May 2017
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Image: Study volunteers in the chamber that mimics the effects of blood loss (Photo courtesy of Blair Johnson, University at Buffalo).
Image: Study volunteers in the chamber that mimics the effects of blood loss (Photo courtesy of Blair Johnson, University at Buffalo).
A new study suggests that cooling the face following hemorrhage could help prevent shutdown of the cardiovascular system.

Researchers at the University at Buffalo conducted a study involving 10 healthy participants (average age 22, three women), who completed two randomized trials on separate days. Participants were placed in a hypobaric chamber in order to lower their blood pressure (BP) by 30 mmHg, simulating six minutes of blood loss. Subsequently, a 2.5 liter plastic bag of ice slurry at 0°C or a similar bag of thermoneutral water (34°C) were placed on their forehead and eyes for an additional 15 minutes. The researchers continuously measured various indicators of cardiovascular function.

The results showed that forehead temperature decreased almost 23°C with the ice slurry bag. Mean arterial BP increased significantly, rising from a mean 77 mmHg to 98 mmHg after three minutes; at the same time heart rate lowered, stroke volume increased, cardiac output decreased, and total peripheral resistance increased using the ice slurry bag. The results suggest that face cooling could bolster prevent a dangerous fall in blood pressure after blood loss by bolstering cardiovascular function. The study was presented at the Experimental Biology annual meeting, held during April 2017 in Chicago (IL, USA).

“We believe that cooling the face could potentially be used as a quick and temporary method to prevent cardiovascular decompensation after blood loss, once active bleeding has stopped,” said lead author Professor Blair Johnson, MD, of the department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences. “We think that this technique could be used by first responders or combat medics on the battlefield to give additional time for transportation or evacuation.”

Cardiovascular decompensation causes a sudden precipitous drop in BP that limits oxygen delivery to the heart, brain, and other vital organs. It is a significant risk after blood loss, even once the person is no longer actively bleeding. It is estimated that over 35% of pre-hospital deaths are due to blood loss, as are over 40% of deaths that occur in the first 24 hours following injury. The number of deaths due to hemorrhage is second only to that caused by central nervous system (CNS) injury.


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