Medically induced coma after cardiac arrest - ICUsteps

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Medically induced coma after cardiac arrest


This past Wednesday my dad suddenly collapsed at his friend’s house, with no previous history of any heart problem. His friend immediately started with CPR and called for help. It seems that some of his coronary arteries were blocked, which resulted in cardiac arrest. He was taken to the hospital and immediately put in medically induced coma. During the cooling process, he developed pneumonia, so now he is being treated with antibiotics as well. On Friday, they started to warm him up and his body started to shiver, so they stopped. When we visited him, he was already opening eyes and turning a little when he heard our voices. On Saturday, they tried to wake him up again but he became restless, so they sedate him to calm him down and help his body to heal. Yesterday he had a mild epileptic seizure and got medicine for it but even though, he is not drugged anymore, he does not wake up. EEG did not show bad results so far, but another test was performed today and we will know more tomorrow. He is breathing on his own, but still has a tube to help him if needed. He is in early 60s, very active and in good health, so this caught us by surprise.

Is it possible that epilepsy treatment in effecting his consciousness?

Has any of you gone through similar situation?

14 Replies

Taking time to wake from an induced coma is fairly common. Each of us has a unique experience so few are identical- ie there is no equation that states “coma for 5 days - wake up on 1hr”. Even if one person is speedy the next may be sluggish. I was in a coma for 57 days and it took me 11 days to wake. Keep talking and reassuring him. I had fits off an antiviral but that was once I woke up - that was horrendous.

Sepsur thank you for your reply. I understand that there is no "rule" of when someone will wake up or how long it will take him/her to be conscious again, but I am trying to determine an average amount of days it takes. My problem is that we are getting mixed messages from doctors (we speak with different doctor each day), which makes me doubt some of them. On Friday doctor told us he is breathing on his own, but they will leave the tube until he gains consciousness. On that day he was opening his eyes from time to time and turning his head towards us when we were taking to him.

Today another doctor said that he is still intubated, because he is not breathing on his own yet. This same doctor told us he has not open eyes so far (not true) and that we should give him time. When mom and I were visiting today, he opened his eyes again and was looking towards us while we talked to him. We asked him to blink his eyes twice if he can hear us and he did. We asked several other questions and he was blinking as he would understand what we are asking.

We are patient and giving him as much time as he needs, but we want to know how we can help him heal or what else we can do to make a difference. We are trying to prepare him to not be afraid when he wakes up. We tell him each day that he is in a hospital and that they are helping him to feel better. We ask him to remain calm, to keep fighting and to rest as much as he can, so his body can get stronger.

Coming to terms with the mixed messages is really tricky - I have other ongoing conditions & I experience the same ‘schitzoid’ Advice. One day it’s one thing, the next it is the opposite.

Best wishes

As Sepsur advises Please keep talking to your Dad. It will reassure him you are there. I visited my younger brother in his 40s every day this time last year. He was in a medically induced coma with sepsis from flu. It is a rollercoaster as some days are good and some are hard. Keep strong and here is a link that may help you to understand. It took a month for my brother to wake up properly. Today he is fit and well and running round after his children.

Thinking of you and your family.

Copse77 thank you for the kind words of encouragement. Past 6 days have been an emotional rollercoaster for my mom and I. We try to be positive and strong but after visiting hours are done (usually only 15min/day), we are both exhausted and crushed. We want him to wake up with the least brain damage, so he can fully recover and be active again. We are aware of long road of recovery, but we will be there for him every step of the way.

Thank you for including the link, I will check it out.

I understand how hard it is for you receiving conflicting advice. Trust what you and your Mom see. You know your Dad better than anyone and he will be reassured by you being there. Exactly this time last year my brother was in a very similar place in an induced coma. The best advice we received was from one consultant who said remain hopeful. That is what we did which is so hard when you are traumatised seeing the person you love dearly very ill. It is very hard and tiring for you and your Mom. It will take your Dad time to come around from an induced coma and all the drugs in his system for sedation as well as epilepsy. Know that there are many people on here who have experienced similar trauma and recovered welll. Best wishes to you all.

It’s all very tricky and what can be described as schizoid advice just reflects the complexity. The Drs are not at the bedside all the time and rely on nurses and families to keep them informed. You are one of the few constants. Eye opening and focussing with purpose can be miles apart. As if head moving versus looking about.

The EEG is really about seeing if someone is having a seizure, some seizures can be so subtle you don’t see the twitching. After cooling is hard - a shiver and a shake.

Time - the truth will out with time, but during this elusive time you will be tortured; entertaining every possibility good and bad. Much right now is thought and speculation - the truth will become apparent in the coming days.

Fingers crossed and hoping it all works out

Thank you all for your encouraging words and for all the support you have given me. What you shared with me through posts and messages helped me understand the situation better, as well as to realize that each person has its own timeline to wake up from coma. I was missing some support from doctors/nurses because everyone was avoiding giving us straight answers to our questions.

I am happy to say that yesterday my dad woke up. It was the 11th day since the accident, if we count the day it happened. Nurse told us he was moving his arms and legs and tried to pull the tubes out because they bother him. He was responding to our questions by blinking his eyes and nodding his head. His look is now focused and centered to the person that speaks to him. Some brain damage is expected, but we are hoping it won’t affect his daily routine.

I am sure he has a long way to recover but for us these first positive signs are enough to give us hope he can get better each week, month. If anyone is going through similar situation with their loves ones, I am happy to share my inputs and frustration of the past 11 days, if this can help you in any way. I wish you and your families lots of health and love.

We as a family are so happy for you and your family. It may help to keep a diary or note day by day so you can remind yourself of the positive improvements if you do have bad days. It may be something your Dad will want to look back on. I hope your Dad continues to progress and it is good that he is finding the tubes a problem as it shows he is recovering. Doctors have to give worst case prognosis. We were told about brain damage and it was such a worry and awful dread. It takes time for recovery to happen. Wishing your Dad a good recovery.

I am already keeping a calendar and a dairy for him. First one has days marked to track recovery and main changes (opening eyes, responding-blinking/nodding, laughing, hand/arm/leg movements, first day conscious, first day without tubes), second one has the details from doctors, from our conversations and current sport results, because he is a huge sports fan.

They remove his tubes on Sunday and transferred him to a different ICU on Monday, but after a day there, he was transferred back, because he had problems breathing. This is the first time they mentioned that most of his ribs were broken during CPR, so this is the reason why he is having such issues. He is conscious, but again intubated, because he needs help with breathing. He can squeeze our hands a little when we ask him to and he is moving his arms and legs more controlled than previous days.

We have ups and downs like you predicted and I feel we take one step forward and one step back at times. We have to remind ourselves daily that we are not in a hurry and that he will take his time to recover.

Thank you for your support.

Thank you for sharing this. It is so nice to hear your Dad is making progress. My brother is a football fan and I used to tell him all the news from his team and matches when he was in a coma and have a radio on for him when matches were on. It was very hard but 10 months on he has made a full recovery. I remember one of the worst days was being told he might be brain damaged with no chance of recovery.

Today I am off work and gave blood for the first time as a small way to say thank you for all the people who looked after him and those who donated blood as he received transfusions.

Hiya sorry to hear this has happened. We had similar mixed messages but I will be honest I think each day things can change and different approaches are looked at..or a review of his situation may call for a different plan from what was in place the day before. Van change hour to hour even.For me it felt like each day came with another blow. For a bit... then wakey wakey and recovery time. Would say looking back that patience is required and spending time with him and having a positive hopeful head will be about the only thing you can try. Give it time it seems never ending but promise it gets better and all of a sudden he may just start to get better and better and responsive out of the blue. Then each visit will hopefully come with more and more positive news.

Some people recover just as quickly as they deteriorated and they wake up and get transfered straight to a specialist ward. I hope this happens for you guys BEST OF LUCK XXXX

Thank you for your kind words and shared experience. We need to constantly remind ourselves that we need to be more patient. We expect (or better say hope) that each day will bring a small improvement and when we see that he takes a step or two back with recovery, we find ourselves disappointed.

He was an athlete in his young age and was still very active prior to cardiac arrest, so we are counting that his athleticism and character will help him recover even if odds will not be the greatest.

Wish you all the best wishes no one had to go through any of this x

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