1 in 5 people remember ‘lucid dying’ after being revived with CPR

1 in 5 people remember ‘lucid dying’ after being revived with CPR

1 in 5 people remember ‘lucid dying’ after being revived with CPR

A clearer picture of life after death – albeit short-lived – comes into focus

A new study found that 20% of people on the verge of death experienced “lucid dying”. The phenomenon is said to occur in the moments between cardiac arrest, when they are unconscious or dying, and receiving life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

One in five survivors reported feeling detached from their body and observing events without pain or distress – which the researchers distinguished from hallucinations, delusions, dreams or vivid consciousness.

“These lucid experiences cannot be considered a trick of a deranged or dying brain, but a unique human experience that occurs on the brink of death,” said research leader Dr. Sam Parnia. His team from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York presented their findings Sunday at a symposium of the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Chicago.

Parnia said the results point to evidence that some people have a “unique inner conscious experience, including non-disturbed awareness” after physical death. These extraordinary experiences, as well as heightened brain activity at the time of death, suggest that consciousness may continue in some capacity after death.

1 in 5 people remember ‘lucid dying’ after being revived with CPR
The study suggests that consciousness may not completely cease at death.
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Researchers analyzed data from 567 hospital patients who experienced cardiac arrest and received CPR between May 2017 and March 2020, in US and UK hospitals. They also included the testimonies of 126 people who survived out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Patients were also tested for hidden brain activity during this time, revealing spikes of up to an hour in CPR, including gamma, delta, theta, alpha and beta waves – the same ones that can occur in the living while performing high-level thought processes.

It is known that after death, the brain fires a series of “disinhibition” signals, which open new pathways to memory and imagination. Scientists do not understand the evolutionary purpose of this process, but it raises “intriguing questions about human consciousness, even at the moment of death,” Parnia said.

Scientists are just beginning to reckon with the concept of consciousness as more than just a side effect of a functioning brain. In a statement, Parnia called for further study of specific biomarkers of “clinical” awareness.


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