death and the potentially dead
“Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come,we are not.”
Death not to be feared. When a man dies, he does not feel the pain of death
Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo (I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care)
once upon a time death was a relatively simple concept - once your heart stopped you were “dead”
in other words, empirically, it was noted that it was very rare for a person to come to life once their heart and pulse had ceased - although given the rather insensitive methods for detecting cardiac activity and pulses without stethoscopes, many may have indeed been falsely regarded as having died and some would “come back to life”, at least temporarily, such as those with severe hypovolaemic shock from blood loss or dehydration.
this concept of death has evolved into what we now regard as “circulatory death” - irreversible cessation of the circulation of blood in a person's body
- see how to verify death
then along came CPR, defibrillation, intubation and positive pressure ventilation, and it was possible that some of these people with good evidence of “circulatory death” could have their circulation and ventilation restored
many of these could not have their circulation maintained and resuscitation attempts were regarded as futile and terminated, thus they “died”
some of these regained consciousness and were able to be removed from all circulatory and ventilatory support and were able to be discharged from hospital, albeit with variable neurologic deficits largely dependent upon the degree of initial hypoxia the brain was exposed to and the secondary damage from further insults whilst being ventilated.
some were able to be “kept alive” on a ventilator for many days but failed to regain consciousness which created a dilemma as to how long they should be kept on a ventilator.
death is a process not always a single timed event
it is recognised that just because the circulation ceases, the body is not instantly dead, despite the desire of legal definitions to make death an “event” rather than a “process”, but various cells of the body which are deprived of oxygen as a result of this do START to die at variable rates - many cell types may actually be alive for hours, particularly if they do not have high oxygen demands such as when they are cooled down.
to complicate the picture further, new medical resuscitation methods, particularly, hypothermic cerebral protection
, have meant that those with choking / cardiac arrest / BLS / ALS / CPR
could potentially be placed in a prolonged state of both circulatory and ventilatory support whilst hopefully protecting the organs from damage while the underlying cause can be addressed.
finally, there is the concept of information-theoretic death which is the destruction of the information within a human brain such as a person's memories, personality, etc. The cryonics industry attempts to preserve this aspect of the brain in the hope that future technology can access it or restore it, although it is extremely doubtful that freezing the brain will address this. This is very different from the proven hypothermic cerebral protection used in ED's and ICU's in patients post-arrest.
deciding when to cease or to not attempt resuscitation
deciding against attempting resuscitation
cessation of resuscitation
death.txt · Last modified: 2020/03/21 12:23 (external edit)