PARIS (AFP) – Some people may retain awareness after they have technically died, according to an unusual study published on Wednesday into hospital patients who went into deep cardiac arrest.
Fifteen hospitals in Britain, Austria and the United States pooled information about more than 2,000 cardiac arrest patients.
The research, published in the European journal Resuscitation, sought to assess “near-death experiences” and other phenomena recounted by people hauled back from clinical death – when heart and brain activity have stopped.
Of the 2,060 patients, 330 were resuscitated, of whom 101 completed in-depth, two-stage interviews afterwards.
Thirty-nine per cent described a perception of awareness before their heart was restarted but did not have a explicit recall of events.
“This suggests that more people may have mental activity initially but then lose their memories after recovery, either due to the effects of brain injury or sedative drugs on memory recall,” said Sam Parnia, who led the study at Britain’s University of Southampton.
Forty-six per cent said they had feelings of fear, violence or persecution, deja-vu, or images of relatives, animals and plants.