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  Children’s National participates in clinical trial for therapeutic hypothermia after pediatric cardiac arrest
October 22, 2010

Washington, DC – Children’s National is participating in the first large-scale, multi-center study to investigate the effectiveness of temperature regulation in infants and children following cardiac arrest. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health has launched the Therapeutic Hypothermia after Pediatric Cardiac Arrest (THAPCA) trials that will help inform evidence-based care to optimize survival rates and quality of life for these vulnerable patients.

Fever is an important contributing factor to mortality and/or long-term neurological damage following cardiac arrest. This trial seeks to determine the level of temperature management – hypothermia (89.6-93.2F) versus normal temperature (96.8-99.5F) – that results in better survival and neurologic outcomes. Both levels of temperature management require active therapy to prevent fever.

Children’s National has extensive expertise in cooling techniques, having played a role in defining best practices in therapeutic hypothermia in newborns after birth asphyxia, or lack of oxygen. Additionally, therapeutic hypothermia is routinely used in cardiac surgery at Children’s National to optimize neurologic outcomes. To date, therapeutic hypothermia has not been thoroughly studied in infants or children following cardiac arrest.

“Parents need to understand that getting their child to a highly specialized critical care center like Children’s National is essential in the short window of time after injuries or trauma, including cardiac arrest,” said John T. Berger, III, MD, medical director, Cardiac Intensive Care and director, Pulmonary Hypertension Program. “Studies like this contribute to defining best practices in critical care. Children’s National was involved in defining this study and was selected to participate given its track record in critical care medicine research and patient outcomes.

In the United States, about 16,000 children suffer cardiac arrest each year, typically with causes far different than those that cause cardiac arrest in adults. While cardiac arrest is rare among otherwise healthy children, traumas or drowning can cause an arrest, as can medical conditions including congenital heart defects (conditions with which the child is born).

Children’s National has the only pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit in the mid-Atlantic region, and features a multidisciplinary team dedicated exclusively to treating neonates through young adults with critical cardiac needs. The Cardiac Intensive Care Unit is expanding to a 26 bed unit within the Division of Critical Care Medicine lead by David L. Wessel, MD, the IKARIA Distinguished Professor of Critical Care Medicine at Children’s National.

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Contact: Paula Darte or Emily Dammeyer: 202-476-4500

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About Children’s National Medical Center
Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, has been serving the nation’s children since 1870. Home to Children’s Research Institute and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, Children’s National is consistently ranked among the top pediatric hospitals by U.S.News & World Report and the Leapfrog Group. With 283 beds, more than 1,330 nurses, 550 physicians, and seven regional outpatient centers, Children’s National is the only exclusive provider of pediatric care in the Washington metropolitan area. Children’s National has been recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet® designated hospital, the highest level of recognition for nursing excellence that a medical center can achieve. For more information, visit, receive the latest news from the Children's National press room, or follow us Facebook and Twitter.