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Diseases & Conditions

Anoxia

(Also Called 'Cerebral Hypoxia')

Synonym(s): Hypoxia, Anoxia

What is Cerebral Hypoxia?

Cerebral hypoxia refers to a condition in which there is a decrease of oxygen supply to the brain even though there is adequate blood flow. Drowning, strangling, choking, suffocation, cardiac arrest, head trauma, carbon monoxide poisoning, and complications of general anesthesia can create conditions that can lead to cerebral hypoxia. Symptoms of mild cerebral hypoxia include inattentiveness, poor judgment, memory loss, and a decrease in motor coordination. Brain cells are extremely sensitive to oxygen deprivation and can begin to die within five minutes after oxygen supply has been cut off. When hypoxia lasts for longer periods of time, it can cause coma, seizures, and even brain death. In brain death, there is no measurable activity in the brain, although cardiovascular function is preserved. Life support is required for respiration.

Is there any treatment?

Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the hypoxia, but basic life-support systems have to be put in place: mechanical ventilation to secure the airway; fluids, blood products, or medications to support blood pressure and heart rate; and medications to suppress seizures.

What is the prognosis?

Recovery depends on how long the brain has been deprived of oxygen and how much brain damage has occurred, although carbon monoxide poisoning can cause brain damage days to weeks after the event. Most people who make a full recovery have only been briefly unconscious. The longer someone is unconscious, the higher the chances of death or brain death and the lower the chances of a meaningful recovery. During recovery, psychological and neurological abnormalities such as amnesia, personality regression, hallucinations, memory loss, and muscle spasms and twitches may appear, persist, and then resolve.

Organizations

Brain Injury Association of America, Inc.
1608 Spring Hill Rd, Suite 110
Vienna, VA 22182
braininjuryinfo@biausa.org
www.biausa.org
Tel: 703.761.0750 800.444.6443
Fax: 703.761.0755

National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC)
8201 Corporate Drive, Suite 600
Landover, MD 20785
naricinfo@heitechservices.com
www.naric.com
Tel: 301.459.5900/301.459.5984 (TTY) 800.346.2742
Fax: 301.562.2401

Brain Injury Resource Center
P.O.Box 84151
Seattle, WA 98124
brain@headinjury.com
www.headinjury.com
Tel: 206.621.8558
Fax: 206.329.4355

Brain Trauma Foundation
7 World Trade Center 250 Greenwich Street, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
education@braintrauma.org
www.braintrauma.org
Tel: 212.772.0608
Fax: 212.772.0357

Easter Seals
233 South Wacker Drive, Suite 2400
Chicago, IL 60606
info@easterseals.com
www.easterseals.com
Tel: 312.726.6200 800.221.6827
Fax: 312.726.1494

Source: National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 10/18/2010...#6025

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