Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Balance

Font Size

Carbon Dioxide a Clue in Near-Death Experiences

High Levels of Carbon Dioxide During Cardiac Arrest May Cause Patients' Strange Sensations, Researchers Say
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

April 7, 2010 -- There may be a sound scientific explanation behind the strange near-death experiences reported by many people who go into cardiac arrest.

A new study suggests a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood during cardiac arrest may cause the sensations of life flashing before the eyes, feelings of peace and joy, and encounters with mystical entities associated with near-death experiences.

Researchers say about a fifth of people who survive cardiac arrest report near-death experiences.

During cardiac arrest, the heart ceases to function properly and dangerous levels of carbon dioxide build up in the blood, but researchers say the association between carbon dioxide and near-death experiences (NDEs) has never been reported before.

"Our study adds new and important information to the field of NDE phenomena,” researcher Zalika Klemenc-Ketis of the University of Maribor in Slovenia, says in a news release. “We found that in those patients who experienced the phenomenon, blood carbon dioxide levels were significantly higher than in those who did not."

In the study, published in Critical Care, researchers examined 52 cases of cardiac arrest where the patient survived. Eleven (22%) reported a near-death experience.

The results showed people who reported a near-death experience had much higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in their blood than the others.

Today on WebMD

Hands breaking pencil in frustration
Quiz
Dark chocolate bars
Slideshow
 
teen napping with book over face
VIDEO
concentration killers
Slideshow
 
man reading sticky notes
Quiz
worried kid
fitArticle
 
Hungover man
Slideshow
Woman opening window
Slideshow
 
Woman yawning
Health Check
Happy and sad faces
Quiz
 
brain food
Slideshow
laughing family
Quiz