'Life after death?': Study details man's chilling account of being conscious even after his heart stopped

'Life after death?': Study details man's chilling account of being conscious even after his heart stopped
(Representational picture, Getty Images/Creative)

Since time immemorial, humans have been intrigued by the mystifying question of what happens after death. One study on the subject unearthed some rather interesting findings. 

In a nutshell, researchers concluded that people may retain consciousness even after clinical death. Scientists studied near-death experiences of some patients and found that they retained a level of consciousness even after their hearts stopped beating. The conclusions were documented in a paper published in the medical journal 'Resuscitation' after examining 2,060 cases of cardiac arrests. One of the subjects accurately recalled how doctors carried out his resuscitation.

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"(The) man described the perception of observing events from the top corner of the room and continued to experience a sensation of looking down from above," the study said, as reported by the Daily Mirror. "He accurately described people, sounds, and activities from his resuscitation. His medical records corroborated his accounts and specifically supported his descriptions and the use of an automated external defibrillator. This likely corresponded with up to three minutes of conscious awareness during cardiac arrest and CPR."

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Speaking to researchers, the man recalled how he was "still talking to (the nurse) and then all of a sudden, he wasn't." He continued, "I must have (blanked out)... but then I can remember vividly an automated voice saying, 'Shock the patient, shock the patient', and with that, up in (the) corner of the room there was a (woman) beckoning me. I can remember thinking to myself, 'I can't get up there'.... she beckoned me... I felt that she knew me, I felt that I could trust her, and I felt she was there for a reason and I didn’t know what that was. And the next second, I was up there, looking down at me, the nurse, and another man who had a bald head. I couldn't see his face but I could see the back of his body. He was quite a chunky fella. He had blue scrubs on, and he had a blue hat, but I could tell he didn't have any hair, because of where the hat was. The next thing I remember is waking up on (the) bed."

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The 2014 study noted that only 330 patients out of the 2,060 cases survived cardiac arrests and left the hospital. Many of the survivors couldn't recollect what transpired, but some had a clear memory of their ordeal. Altogether nine of them reported having "near-death experiences" while two claimed visual awareness during their cardiac arrests.

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"While near-death experiences have been reported by 10% of cardiac arrest survivors, the overall broader cognitive and mental experiences associated with cardiac arrests, as well as awareness, and the association between actual cardiac arrest events and auditory and visual recollection of events has not been studied," the study's introduction states. "The primary aim of this study was to examine the incidence of awareness and the broad range of mental experiences during resuscitation. The secondary aim was to investigate the feasibility of establishing a novel methodology to test the accuracy of reports of visual and auditory perception and awareness during cardiac arrests."

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Scientists eventually concluded, "Cardiac arrest survivors experience a broad range of memories following CPR including fearful and persecutory experiences as well as awareness. While explicit recall of visual awareness is rare, it is unclear whether these experiences contribute to later PTSD. Studies are also needed to delineate the role of explicit and implicit memory following cardiac arrests and the impact of this phenomenon on the occurrence of PTSD and other life adjustments among cardiac arrest survivors."

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