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High Levels of Carbon Dioxide During Cardiac Arrest May Cause Patients’ Strange Sensations, Researchers Say

Posted in News by Skepdude on April 7, 2010


April 7, 2010 — There may be a sound scientific explanation behind the strange near-death experiences reported by many people who go into cardiac arrest.

A new study suggests a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood during cardiac arrest may cause the sensations of life flashing before the eyes, feelings of peace and joy, and encounters with mystical entities associated with near-death experiences.

Researchers say about a fifth of people who survive cardiac arrest report near-death experiences.

During cardiac arrest, the heart ceases to function properly and dangerous levels of carbon dioxide build up in the blood, but researchers say the association between carbon dioxide and near-death experiences (NDEs) has never been reported before.


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More On Near Death Experiences

Posted in Neurologica by Skepdude on September 22, 2008

There has been a great deal of discussion about the planned study of near death experiences (NDEs) since I wrote about the study on Friday. I focused my attention primarily on the neurological and scientific issues, but other issues were raised with regard to this study.

GM Woerlee wrote an extensive piece on this topic focusing also on the medical aspects of what happens during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). His primary point is that CPR generates enough blood flow to the brain in order to explain the experiences that survivors report. He also emphasizes that this research into NDEs has been done enough to arrive at the reliable conclusion that it is the experience of an anoxic brain and tha this further research is unecessary.

This, of course, raises the question of the usefulness of this proposed study – to place signs near the ceilings in ERs and ICUs and then see if people with NDEs could read the signs, meaning they were actually outside their bodies and not just feeling as if they were. I agree with the argument that this is a questionable use of finite research funds. There are certainly more pressing medical questions with a greater probability of a practical outcome. Public interest and the ideology of individual researchers – not good medicine – is driving this research.


Studying Near Death Experiences

Posted in Neurologica by Skepdude on September 20, 2008

Near death experiences (NDEs) have been a favorite topic for the paranormal crowd for some time. If one could prove that consciousness survives the physical death of the body that would go a long way to opening the door to a wide range of paranormal claims. NDEs often occur in the medical setting, and this is partly why a team of doctors from the UK and USA are planning a rigorous study of NDEs.

That NDEs occur is not controversial – many people report remembering experiences around the time of cardiac arrest from which they were revived. Typical experiences include a sense of floating outside of one’s body, even looking down upon oneself and the events going on. Some people report a bright light, and others report “passing over” and being greated by deceased loved-ones. The experience is often peaceful or euphoric, which contrasts to the way people feel when they eventually wake up. Surviving a cardiac arrest takes its toll and is not a pleasant experience.