Hypothermia occurs when the core body temperature falls below 95°F. In many cases, the condition occurs gradually due to exposure to cold weather, but it can also occur almost instantaneously when a person receives a cold IV fluid infusion. According to research, in 2010, the majority of IV infusions that were delivered in hospitals and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) vehicles were delivered cold. When a hospital unit or an EMS IV kit does not contain a portable IV warmer, hospital patients and injury victims are likely to experience one of the following hypothermia related complications.
In the immune system, hypothermia impairs neutrophil and microphage function, and increases the occurrence of hospital-acquired infections, particularly bacterial wound infections. Administering warm IV fluids during and after surgery helps prevent infection.
Hypothermia increases the risk of cardiac arrest by creating: systemic and pulmonary vasoconstriction, increasing arterial blood pressure, and increasing the risk of ventricular dysrhythmias and myocardial ischaema. Research has shown that giving warm IV infusions to hypothermic patients helps prevent postoperative cardiac arrest, which can occur due to the cooling effect that anesthesia has on the body.
Increased Oxygen Consumption
In the final stage of hypothermia, oxygen consumption slows due to organ failure, but in the initial stage, oxygen consumption increases due to shivering and tachycardia (accelerated heart beat). These responses occur automatically as the body attempts to generate heat. Tachycardia can be dangerous for those who have serious heart conditions, and intense shivering makes it difficult for a person to assist himself or herself by performing basic physical tasks.
When hypothermia progresses to the point of contracting surface blood vessels and decreasing the heart rate, the person may fall into a coma. The contraction of surface blood vessels occurs in moderate hypothermia; while decreased heart rate is a sign of severe hypothermia. If the patient remains in a severe state of hypothermia, he or she will lapse into a coma and die due to organ failure. An EMS IV kit that contains a portable IV warmer will help prevent this from happening by raising the core body temperature of the person via a warm IV fluid infusion.
Hypothermia impairs coagulation function by affecting platelet function, coagulation cascade, and fibrinolysis. Platelet function is impaired due to reduced levels of thromboxane B2 near the injury; coagulation cascade is reduced because the enzymes that are required for the cascade are temperature dependent; fibrinolysis is increased, which destabilizes the clot and causes increased bleeding. Because hypothermia is often thought to "slowing down" the body's functions, it is mistakenly thought to have a positive effect on coagulation, but the opposite is true. When injury victims bleed to death, primary or secondary hypothermia may be a contributing factor.
An EMS IV kit that contains an IV fluid infusion system for warming IV fluids helps prevent dangerous side-effects of hypothermia, including: hospital-acquired infections, cardiac arrest, increased oxygen consumption, coma, and impaired coagulation. For more information about preventing hypothermia with warm IV fluids, contact a supplier of IV warmers today.