Brain injuries caused by stroke are common and costly in human and resource terms. The result of stroke is a cascade of molecular and physiological derangement, cell death, damage and inflammation in the brain. This, together with infection, if present, commonly results in patients having an increased temperature, which is associated with worse outcome. The usual clinical goal in stroke is therefore to reduce temperature to normal, or below normal (hypothermia) to reduce swelling if brain pressure is increased. However, research evidence does not yet conclusively show whether or not cooling patients after stroke improves their longer-term outcome (reduces death and disability). It is possible that complications of cooling outweigh the benefits. Cooling therapy may reduce damage and potentially improve outcome, and head cooling targets the site of injury and may have fewer side effects than systemic cooling, but the evidence base is unclear.
- Hypothermia, Induced