A patient's heart stops beating. Nurses roll in the crash cart and resuscitation ensues. After many failed attempts, the medical team reaches a difficult decision. The nurse looks up at the clock and calls the time of death. Twenty minutes later, the patient is sitting upright, fully functional, complaining why they have not been served lunch yet. Lazarus syndrome is a miracle medical scientists have not been able to figure out yet, but they have some ideas that may be close to unveiling this medical mystery.
Lazarus Syndrome-- When the Dead Come Back to Life
An unresponsive patient's heart begins to beat several hours after failed CPR. Does this phenomenon have a scientific explanation behind it or is it simply another chance at life?
The biblical Lazarus wasn't the only man to rise from the dead. This modern day miracle is known as Lazarus Syndrome. Lazarus syndrome occurs when patients come back to life after failed attempts of resuscitation. Patients have been announced alive after anywhere from twenty minutes to days after being announced dead. While some patients make complete recoveries, others come back to life only to die days or weeks later. This rare occurrence has only been recorded thirty-eight times after its first recording in 1982. The cause of this phenomenon is unknown, though researchers are beginning to come up with possibilities.
Scientists researching lazarus syndrome have no definite answers as to how or why it occurs, but some promising hypotheses have been made. One of the most promising hypotheses has to do with the correlation between Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and electrical impulses of the heart. When the heart stops beating, CPR is necessary in efforts to stabilize a patient. Chest compressions, difibrillation, and oxygen supplement are all utilized tools of CPR. During chest compressions, the heart is placed under constant pressure in order to create artificial circulation of blood throughout the heart and rest of the body. It is suspected that when CPR ceases, the ability for the heart to expand in response to the halt of pressure causes electrical impulses in the heart to fire off, thus restarting the heart. Scientists also believe that high doses of epinephrine play a role in lazarus syndrome as it can help return spontaneous circulation, though further explanation is unknown. Until further research is constructed, the cause of lazarus syndrome will continue to puzzle medical staff and researchers.