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Using widowheartmaker, has little brain activity. Survival chances?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2009
Answered : 8985 Questions
my 67 year old brother had a widowmaker heart attack last sunday he is still unconsious today tuesday but stable according to hospital. He moves around a little has brain activity opened his eyes briefly and was never flatlined for more than 2 minutes, he has no other health issues. what are his chances for survival
Posted Mon, 20 May 2013 in Heart Attack
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan 3 hours later
Hello and welcome to XXXXXXX

Thank you for writing to us.

I am extremely sorry to hear the news about your brother, this is extremely unfortunate.

Now coming to the details. A widow maker heart attack is an extremely serious condition and usually results from a severely stenotic (narrowed) major coronary artery. This type of heart attack almost always results in death, but your brother has survived most probably due to the effort of the medical team. The main issue with this kind of a presentation is that, even slight additional pressure or a small plaque (substance that deposits itself inside the blood vessel wall to narrow it) can result in immediate rupture of the blood vessel and sudden death.

As you mentioned that your brother had also flatlined for a while, but was resuscitated; this was because a person who has no pulse can survive for a few seconds or a minute or two, with the help of the oxygen available in his/her blood. But, another issue with this particular period is that, the brain does not receive as much oxygen as it would require, causing almost immediate cell death. We cannot asses how much damage this has caused to your brother's brain, and to which parts of his brain. Depending on which part has been affected, we will be able to predict what functions have been impaired or completely lost.

Now coming to your main question, of his chances of survival. I would like to first ask you if there was a bypass surgery or angioplasty conducted? I understand these surgeries are very risky for your brother right now, but were they conducted immediately after he was hospitalized?

This is important information as, if these were conducted (although very risky and usually not possible) they can result in a slight prolongation of life. But, if they weren't, his chances of survival are low and prognosis for life is bad. We cannot predict how long he would live, as this depends completely on his lifestyle and body's ability to survive this. Usually patients do not survive for more than a few hours or days after the attack. I am deeply saddened to inform you this.

Hoping against the knowledge I have, I hope god blesses your brother with good health, a long healthy life and a speedy recovery.

My best wishes to your brother, you and your family.

God bless.
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