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Crit Care. 2010;14(2):R56. doi: 10.1186/cc8952. Epub 2010 Apr 8.

The effect of carbon dioxide on near-death experiences in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survivors: a prospective observational study.

Author information

  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Medical School, University of Maribor, Slomskov trg 15, Maribor, Slovenia. zalika.klemenc-ketis@uni-mb.si

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Near-death experiences (NDEs) are reported by 11-23% of cardiac arrest survivors. Several theories concerning the mechanisms of NDEs exist - including physical, psychological, and transcendental reasons - but so far none of these has satisfactorily explained this phenomenon. In this study, we investigated the effect of partial pressures of O2 and CO2, and serum levels of Na and K on the occurrence of NDEs in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survivors.

METHODS:

A prospective observational study was conducted in the three largest hospitals in Slovenia. Fifty-two consecutive patients (median age 53.1 years, 42 males) after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest were included. The presence of NDEs was assessed with a self-administered Greyson's NDE scale. The initial partial pressure of end-tidal CO2, the arterial blood partial pressures of O2 and CO2 and the levels of Na and K in venous blood were analysed and studied. Univariate analyses and multiple regression models were used.

RESULTS:

NDEs were reported by 11 (21.2%) of the patients. Patients with higher initial partial pressures of end-tidal CO2 had significantly more NDEs (P < 0.01). Patients with higher arterial blood partial pressures of CO2 had significantly more NDEs (P = 0.041). Scores on a NDE scale were positively correlated with partial pressures of CO2 (P = 0.017) and with serum levels of potassium (P = 0.026). The logistic regression model for the presence of NDEs (P = 0.002) explained 46% of the variance and revealed higher partial pressures of CO2 to be an independent predictor of NDEs. The linear regression model for a higher score on the NDE scale (P = 0.001) explained 34% of the variance and revealed higher partial pressures of CO2, higher serum levels of K, and previous NDEs as independent predictors of the NDE score.

CONCLUSIONS:

Higher concentrations of CO2 proved significant, and higher serum levels of K might be important in the provoking of NDEs. Since these associations have not been reported before, our study adds novel information to the field of NDEs phenomena.

Comment in

PMID:
20377847
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2887177
Free PMC Article

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