A bear necessity?

A study of hibernating black bears has yielded results that could one day aid seriously injured patients.

Researchers recorded the vital signs of five of these bears in the woods of Alaska throughout their five months of inactivity.

Unlike many other hibernating mammals, the bears maintained a high body temperature throughout their entire inactive period. Their use of oxygen however decreased as much as 75 percent with a heart rate of 14 beats per minute as opposed to their normal rate of 55 beats.

If researchers can uncover the way hibernators turn down their metabolism while still maintaining a high temperature, it could be a basis for a new therapy to put someone in stasis. Such a protected state would buy seriously injured patients time to reach medical care. Expanding the so called ‘golden hour’ to a ‘golden day’ or maybe even a ‘golden week’.

© Jorn van Dooren | www.bitsofscience.org

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