CROWN POINT | Greg Wornhoff doesn’t remember the therapeutic hypothermia treatment he recently received at Franciscan St. Anthony Health Crown Point, but he knows it saved his life.
“Without that, I don’t know what the outcome might have been,” the 56-year-old, retired Cedar Lake resident said. “My doctor looks at me funny, because I have no history and don’t fit the mold for the congestive heart failure I had.”
Wornhoff, a Cedar Lake Town Council member and former volunteer firefighter, helped bring advanced life support services to the town -- services also credited for his outcome.
Dawn Wornhoff, his wife of 33 years, recalls the incident in detail. “I am a firm believer in therapeutic hypothermia. Greg is a lucky guy,” she said.
She recalled that after a stressful morning, her husband was stricken while assisting a fuel delivery truck driver at their home.
“The driver came to the door and told me to call 911. I found Greg face down, lying on the hose, blue in the face and not breathing," she recalled.
She started CPR before police and medics arrived, another factor in her husband's recovery. "They worked on him for 10 minutes before taking him to the hospital. It didn’t look good,” she said.
But a week later, he walked out of the hospital, after therapeutic hypothermia and having two stents installed to remove arterial blockage.
Therapeutic hypothermia, only recently available at the hospital, is a brain-saver and lifesaver for heart patients.
Dr. Daniel Netluch, chief of emergency services at Franciscan St. Anthony Health Crown Point, said the idea’s origins can be traced to Hippocrates and Napoleon’s army during the French revolution of the 1800s.
Fast-forward to 2002, when independent studies in Australia and in Europe, in which cardiac arrest patients were resuscitated, then gradually cooled to 32 degrees centigrade, saw what Netluch described as remarkable outcomes.
“Neurological recovery rates went from about 2 percent to 55 to 60 percent with this procedure.”
“We cool the patient down for 24 hours, deal with the body’s metabolic changes, and then slowly bring the body back to its normal temperature,” Netluch said.
After her husband began receiving the treatment, Dawn Wornhoff said he started squeezing her hand and wiggling his toes. Soon, he was talking.
“If it weren’t for what the hospital people and that machine did, I wouldn’t be here,” Wornhoff said.