The use of induced hypothermia has been considered for treatment of head injuries since the 1900s. However, it was not until 2 landmark studies were published in 2002 that induced hypothermia was considered best practice for patients after cardiac arrest. In 2005, the American Heart Association included recommendations in the postresuscitation support guidelines recommending consideration of mild hypothermia for unconscious adult patients with return of spontaneous circulation following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation. This article provides an overview on the history and supportive research for inducing mild hypothermia after cardiac arrest, the pathophysiology associated with cerebral ischemia occurring with hypothermia, nursing management for this patient population, and the development of a protocol for induced hypothermia after cardiac arrest.

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