People with alcohol in their system appear more likely to survive head injuries, according to a new study that has led to speculation that emergency rooms might someday keep a flask on hand to treat brain-injured patients. Researchers analyzed a national trauma database containing 38,019 cases of moderate to severe head injuries where hospitals also tested the patients for alcohol.
For every 100 patients with severe brain injuries who tested negative for alcohol and died, only 88 patients with alcohol in their bloodstream died, a statistically significant 12 percent difference, according to the study, which appears in the Sept. 21 issue of Archives of Surgery [The New York Times]. The boozing patients were also younger and suffered less severe injuries than their sober counterparts. The study is the largest to date examining alcohol's effect on brain injury survival.
Some doctors even think alcohol might be able to help treat head injuries.
It could be that alcohol dampens the body's inflammatory response to injury, the [research] team told Archives of Surgery. But they stressed that alcohol can cause medical complications and is contributory to many accidents. Experts cautioned people should not interpret the findings as an excuse to drink more alcohol. [BBC News].
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