People may still have consciousness after “death” according to a new study. A large-scale study involving 2,060 patients from 15 hospitals in the UK, USA and Austria has found patients experience real events for up to a 3-minute period after their heart has stopped beating. Dr Sam Parnia, assistant professor of critical care medicine and director of resuscitation research at the State University of New York and a former research fellow at the University of Southampton, explained it was previously thought only hallucinatory events were experienced in these circumstances. These are normally described as out-of-body experiences (OBEs) or near-death experiences (NDEs).
This is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions, occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted, but not an experience corresponding with ‘real’ events when the heart isn’t beating.
Dr Sam Parnia, assistant professor of critical care medicine and director of resuscitation research at the State University of New York
The Awareness during Resuscitation (Aware) study, sponsored by the University of Southampton, used objective markers to establish whether the experiences were real or hallucinatory. The results showed that 39% of patients who survived cardiac arrest described a perception of awareness but did not have explicit recall. A total of 46% experienced a broad range of mental recollections, 9% had experiences compatible with NDEs and 2% exhibited full awareness compatible with OBEs with explicit recall of “seeing” and “hearing” events. The journal Resuscitation published the research.