Anoxic Brain Injuries

Anoxic Brain Injuries

Anoxic Brain Injuries

An anoxic brain injury occurs when there is a lack of oxygen going to the brain. When this oxygen deprivation occurs, brain cells can start to die within five minutes. Causes of anoxic brain injury can be blood clots, shock, heart problems, diseases, anemia and even lack of air at high altitudes. Coma, seizure and total loss of brain function can occur after several minutes. While rehabilitation can help some people with anoxic brain injury, many individuals with anoxic brain injury sustain persistent psychological and neurological problems. 

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    In some cases, anoxic brain injuries can cause people to go into comas. Generally, the less time a person is comatose, the higher the chance of a successful recovery. Some research suggests that if coma length is under 12 hours, there is only a small chance of long-term damage.

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    The brain damage that occurs from an anoxic brain injury affects the whole brain. Some areas of the brain, however, will become damaged more quickly than others. These include the hippocampus, which affects memory; the cerebral cortex, which is the gray matter that surrounds the surface of the brain; the basal ganglia, a part of your brain involved in movement control; the occipital-parietal cortex, which is involved in sight; and the Purkinje cells in the cerebellum, which are cells in the part of your brain that controls movement and some aspects of speech.

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    Brain cells are so sensitive to oxygen deprivation that they can start to die within five minutes. One reason that the brain is so vulnerable to the oxygen deprivation that leads to anoxic brain injuries is because the brain consumes so much oxygen. In fact, the brain uses a disproportionate amount of oxygen compared to the rest of the body. Approximately a fifth of the total supply of oxygen that the body uses is used by the brain.

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    If someone is losing consciousness or you suspect that they've had an anoxic brain injury, call 911 to get medical help immediately. An anoxic brain injury is a medical emergency. The underlying cause of the anoxic brain injury needs be treated, and any necessary life-support systems - such as mechanical ventilation - need to be established.

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    Anoxic brain injuries occur when your brain is deprived of oxygen. One way this can occur is if the air that you're breathing lacks the appropriate level of oxygen to be utilized by your body. This can take place in high altitudes where the air is thin, but it very rarely occurs elsewhere.

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    An anoxic brain injury can be classified into one of four categories based on what caused the oxygen deprivation. The most common is stagnant anoxia, which occurs when an internal condition blocks an adequate supply of oxygen-rich blood from entering the brain. If the anoxic brain injury is caused by an insufficient supply of oxygen in the air, it's classified as anoxic anoxia. When the anoxic brain injury is caused by toxins or metabolites interfering with the ability to process oxygen normally, it's called toxic anoxia. Anemic anoxia occurs when there are not adequate levels of blood or hemoglobin to carry oxygen to your brain.

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    Several different kinds of injuries and disease processes can lead to the oxygen deprivation that causes an anoxic brain injury. Among the most common are cardiac arrest, traumatic brain injury, drowning, choking, a general anesthesia accident, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Other possible events that can lead to an anoxic brain injury include electrocution, barbiturate poisoning, chest trauma, and severe bronchial asthma.

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    Although recovery from an anoxic brain injury can be unpredictable, some factors can increase your likelihood for a more successful outcome. The less time you were unconscious and the less time you were deprived of oxygen, the better the outcome. In addition, being young can help. Research indicates that people under 25 years old have a higher likelihood of a successful recovery.

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    A serious complication of an anoxic brain injury is the possibility of entering into a protracted vegetative state. The length of time one can survive in a vegetative state is partially dependent on avoiding additional complications. These may include malnourishment, pneumonia, bed sores, and clots in the veins.

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    Cardiovascular disease and strokes can affect anoxic brain injuries by putting you at higher risk for them. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for a significant number of all cardiac arrests, and cardiac arrests are a common cause of anoxic brain injuries. Strokes can also lead to the oxygen deprivation that causes anoxic brain injuries.