I came across the term ‘flatline’ when I was reading Meg Cabot’s Abandon. Ever since, I was fascinated by this topic.
A flatline is an electrical time sequence measurement that shows no activity and therefore, when represented, shows a flat line instead of a moving one. It almost always refers to either a flatlined electrocardiogram where the heart shows no electrical activity (asystole), or to a flat electroencephalogram , in which the brain shows no electrical activity (brain death) . In medicine, asystole is a state of no cardiac electrical activity, hence no contractions of the myocardium and no cardiac output or blood flow. Asystole is one of the conditions that may be used for a medical practitioner to certify clinical or legal death.
Both of these specific cases are involved in various definitions of death. Some consider one who has flatlined to be clinically dead, regardless of eventual resuscitation or lack thereof, whereas others insist that one is alive until the moment of brain death. This is mostly used in the medical industry when a person’s pulse has stopped, indicating a flat line on the heart monitor. When a person “Flat Lines” it does not mean that the spirit has left the body, unless the individual has been certified clinically dead. Then the spirit may not leave the body right away. There are many reliable records of people who have died, and many tell the same story of the long tunnel with a bright light at the end. Some have even testified that they have met deceased persons on the other side of the veil before they are sent back to once again inhabit their body
Possible underlying causes include the Hs and Ts.
- Hydrogenions (acidosis)
- Hyperkalemiaor Hypokalemia
- Tabletsor Toxins (drug overdose)
- Cardiac Tamponade
- Tension pneumothorax
- Thrombosis(myocardial infarction or pulmonary embolism)
- Trauma(hypovolemia from blood loss)
When a patient displays a cardiac flatline, the treatment of choice is an injection of vasopressin (epinephrine and atropine are also possibilities) and chest compressions. Successful resuscitation is generally unlikely and is inversely related to the length of time spent attempting resuscitation. Asystole may be treated with 1 mg epinephrine by IV every 3-5 minutes as needed. Vasopressin 40 units by IV every 3-5 minutes may be used in place of the first and/or second doses of epinephrine, but doing so does not enhance outcomes.
Survival rates in a cardiac arrest patient with asystole are much lower than a patient with a rhythm amenable to defibrillation; asystole is itself not a “shockable” rhythm. Out-of-hospital survival rates (even with emergency intervention) are less than 2 percent.
After many emergency treatments have been applied but the heart is still unresponsive, it is time to consider pronouncing the patient dead. Even in the rare case that a rhythm reappears, if asystole has persisted for fifteen minutes or more, the brain will have been deprived of oxygen long enough to cause brain death.
(All sources from the web)