Article: Cerebral Hypoxia Information Page

What is Cerebral Hypoxia?


Cerebral hypoxia refers to a condition in which there is a decrease of oxygen supply to the brain even though there is adequate blood flow. Drowning, strangling, choking, suffocation, cardiac arrest, head trauma, carbon monoxide poisoning, and complications of general anesthesia can create conditions that can lead to cerebral hypoxia. Symptoms of mild cerebral hypoxia include inattentiveness, poor judgment, memory loss, and a decrease in motor coordination. Brain cells are extremely sensitive to oxygen deprivation and can begin to die within five minutes after oxygen supply has been cut off. When hypoxia lasts for longer periods of time, it can cause coma, seizures, and even brain death. In brain death, basic life functions such as breathing, blood pressure, and cardiac function are preserved, but there is no consciousness or response to the world around.

Is there any treatment?

Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the hypoxia, but basic life-support systems have to be put in place: mechanical ventilation to secure the airway; fluids, blood products, or medications to support blood pressure and heart rate; and medications to suppress seizures.

What is the prognosis?

Recovery depends on how long the brain has been deprived of oxygen and how much brain damage has occurred, although carbon monoxide poisoning can cause brain damage days to weeks after the event. Most people who make a full recovery have only been briefly unconscious. The longer someone is unconscious, the higher the chances of death or brain death and the lower the chances of a meaningful recovery. During recovery, psychological and neurological abnormalities such as amnesia, personality regression, hallucinations, memory loss, and muscle spasms and twitches may appear, persist, and then resolve.

What research is being done?

The NINDS supports and conducts studies aimed at understanding neurological conditions that can damage the brain, such as cerebral hypoxia. The goals of these studies are to find ways to prevent and treat these conditions.

Select this link to view a list of studies currently seeking patients.

Organizations

Brain Injury Association
8201 Greensboro Drive
Suite 611
McLean, VA   22102
FamilyHelpline@biausa.org
http://www.biausa.org
Tel: 703-761-0750 800-444-6443
Fax: 703-761-0755

National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC)
4200 Forbes Boulevard
Suite 202
Lanham, MD   20706-4829
naricinfo@heitechservices.com
http://www.naric.com
Tel: 301-459-5900/301-459-5984 (TTY) 800-346-2742
Fax: 301-562-2401

Head Injury Hotline
212 Pioneer Bldg
Seattle, WA   98104-2221
brain@headinjury.com
http://www.headinjury.com
Tel: 206-621-8558
Fax: 206-329-4355

Brain Trauma Foundation
523 East 72nd Street
8th Floor
New York, NY   10021
info@braintrauma.org
http://www.braintrauma.org
Tel: 212-772-0608
Fax: 212-772-0357

Easter Seals
230 West Monroe Street
Suite 1800
Chicago, IL   60606-4802
info@easter-seals.org
http://www.easter-seals.org
Tel: 312-726-6200 800-221-6827
Fax: 312-726-1494

 


Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Cache Date: December 16, 2004

Resources

  • Anoxia (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
  • Anoxia (Cleveland Clinic)