Near-death experiences are experiences of deep feelings of out-of-body experiences and of entering other dimensions outside usual borders of time and space. They mostly occur when a person is facing a life-threatening situation, is near death or is even clinically death. A lot of theories (physiological, psychological and transcendental) and combined models tried to explain their existence, but so far none of them has provided an unified explanation. Near-death experiences deeply change the further lives of patients, affect both their physical and psychological recovery and also the relationship between the patients and their spouse, family and relatives.
The aims of this research were: to determine the number and percentage of the patients with near-death experiences after a successful resuscitation after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest; to determine the effect of near-death experiences on the lives of the patients; to test the relationship between the length of resuscitation and the incidence of near-death experiences; to test the relationship between the age of the patients and the incidence of near-death experiences; to determine the effect of given drugs before, during, and after the resuscitation on the incidence of near-death experiences; To determine the effect of the vazopresin on the incidence of near-death experiences; to determine the effect of religiousness of the patients on the incidence of near-death experiences; to determine the effect of some physiological states (hypoxia, hypercarbia, electrolyte changes) on the incidence of near-death experiences.
I conducted a multicentre prospective observational study in the three largest hospitals in Slovenia about psycho-cognitive experiences of the patients that were successfully resuscitated after out-of-hospital cardiogenic cardiac arrest in an 18 months period. I did the first interview with the patients as soon as they were able to cooperate. I used Greyson’s near-death experiences scale and Kasl’s index of religiousness scale. I obtained the demographic data and the data about the resuscitation and the clinical course of the patients from the patients’ records that were available in the hospital. I conducted the second interview with the patients after 6 months. I used Greyson’s near-death experiences scale and Ring’s life changing inventory. In the statistical analysis I used the methods of descriptive statistics, univariate and multivariate analyses.
The sample upon the first interview contained 52 patients, and upon the second 37 patients. The near-death experiences were reported by 11 (21.2%) patients. The near-death experiences were more common among the patients that have had such experiences also in previous cardiac arrests, among the patients, whose ECG pattern during cardiac arrest was not ventricular fibrillation, among patients that were not defibrillated, among patients that had higher partial pressure of carboxic dioxide in the peripheral arterial blood, among patients that were given enalapril, furosemide, and insulin before the resuscitation, and among the patients that were given enalapril, diazepam, and insulin after the resuscitation. The independent predictor for the presence of near-death experiences was diazepam. Near-death experiences deeply affected the further lives of the patients. Their interest in the meaning of the life, the interest for themselves, the interest for the relationships with others, and for the spirituality has increased.
Every fifth out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patient in Slovenia experiences the near-death experience, which deeply affects his further life. Thus patients require attention of medical staff, that have to know how to identify such patients, how to cope with them, and how to properly manage them. The existence of near-death experiences can be used in the management of the dying patients and their relatives. Further studies of near-death experiences should focus on the multicentre prospective design and on large samples. |