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Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles That Are Saving Lives Against All Odds

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  • Posted December 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Most compelling medical research I've read....

    The book is an excellent and exciting read for those in the healthcare profession, and the students getting ready to join it, who are interested in advances in medical technology. Sanjay Gupta, MD has done an excellent job researching and organizing the information found in these pages.

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  • Posted December 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Medical innovations that impact people's survival rate - fascinating!

    Sanjay Gupta shares stories of patients that had fallen within that gray zone where they are "neither truly dead or actually alive," and have subsequently benefited from good luck and medical expertise and recovered to lead productive lives.

    I found the book fascinating. The clear and detailed descriptions of the medical cases and discoveries were riveting in and of themselves. For instance, learning how hypothermia can slow down the effect of lack of oxygen caused by a stroke or a heart attack is helpful, but it made a difference to learn that "next step." The use of hypothermia only became practicable when doctors discovered that it is essential to minimize the use of liquids when raising the body's temperature. By keeping the use of liquids to a minimum, the doctors are able to prevent the brain from expanding and avoid subsequent brain damage.

    I hadn't known much about CPR and did not know that that survival rate from cardiac arrest outside of a hospital is rare. Did you know that only about 2% of the victims survive without long term damage? In certain parts of Arizona, people have a substantially better survival rate because of the use of a modified CPR technique and a public health effort to train more people in CPR. The number one thing that can save your life if you have a heart attack is to have a bystander who is trained in CPR and is willing to help.

    The bystander rate of CPR is 20%, in large part because many people are hesitant about performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Through training and education programs, places like Seattle have a 50% rate of bystander CPR assistance and this has meant that the cardiac arrest survival rate in Seattle is much better than in other parts of the country.

    Doctors studied the role of artificial respiration in emergency resuscitation and analyzed the three-phase model of cardiac arrest (electrical, circulatory and metabolic). I won't go into a technical explanation here, but the in the first 4 minutes, the heart has its own energy and has oxygen. The heart needs assistance in getting its beat back. Defibrillation works during this phase because it reinserts the heart's rhythm. From the 4 to 10 minute mark is the circulatory phase, the heart needs assistance to circulate oxygen. It is critical to have someone pump the heart artificially. If there is a delay pumping the heart because the rescuer is performing mouth-to-mouth,then the heart isn't receiving the oxygen that it needs. Sanjay Gupta and the doctors that he cites point out that the most important thing is to get the blood and oxygen moving by compressing the chest.

    Those are just two examples of practical and revolutionary advances in medicine that Sanjay Gupta covers in Cheating Death. I found Cheating Death to be a fascinating read and recommend it to both laypersons and medical professionals both for the scientific innovations that it chronicles and for its clear writing style.

    Publisher: Wellness Central; 1 edition (October 12, 2009), 304 pages.
    Review copy provided by the publisher.

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    Posted September 10, 2011

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    Posted November 25, 2010

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    Posted January 22, 2011

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