Study of cardiac arrest survivors reveals insight into near-death experiences

Researchers who monitored the brain waves of people undergoing CPR found that some survivors had positive memories and dreamlike sensations.

What exactly is happening in the human brain when a person who has almost died is being resuscitated?

A new study of cardiac arrest survivors suggests that almost 40% of people undergoing CPR do have memories, dreamlike experiences or some type of perception even when unconscious. What’s more, brain waves show signs of activity suggesting awareness sometimes up to an hour as they are being brought back to life.

“There’s nothing more extreme than cardiac arrest because they’re literally teetering between life and death, they’re in a deep coma and they don’t respond to us physically at all,” said lead study author Dr. Sam Parnia, an associate professor in the department of medicine at NYU Langone Health. “What we’re able to show is that up to 40% of people actually have a perception of having been conscious to some extent.”

That perception can be just a vague feeling that something is happening around them. However, six patients in the study reported what the researcher called “transcendent recalled experiences of death,” or what many people think of as a near-death experience.

Read the full report from NBC News.