Carrie Fisher, immortalized in film as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” movies, is facing a grim prognosis after a severe heart attack that left her without a pulse for as long as 15 minutes. In such cases, brain damage is almost unavoidable and likely fatal, according to medical sources.
Fisher, 60, suffered the attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles. She traveling home for Christmas after promoting her new memoir, “The Princess Diarist” in Europe.
UPDATE:, Carrie Fisher has died from complications of a severe heart attack that left her without a pulse for as long as 15 minutes. Brain damage is almost unavoidable and proved fatal to the actress. She was 60. Simon Halls, the family’s spokesperson said Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning. She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers,” said Halls on behalf of Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourdes.
A passenger administered CPR but she was unable to breathe on her own for about 10 minutes, according to a distress call from the flight.
Just going two minutes without oxygen can cause damage to specific parts of the brain. Four minutes without oxygen, causes brain cells to be lost permanently.
When lack of blood flow to the brain lasts longer than 10 minutes most patients do not regain consciousness, although there have been exceptions, according to medical references.
The next 48 hours will be critical to her ability to recover, according to medical references. Even so, she will likely have to undergo weeks if not months of rehabilitation and may never fully recover.
Todd Fisher, the star’s brother, told Variety in a phone interview that doctors have provided “no good or bad news.”
Fisher is reportedly being kept a live with the aid of a ventilator, although that presents its own problems. She faces dangers from pneumonia and blood clots, which can be fatal if clots move to the heart or lungs.
Fisher medical emergency began while her flight was still in the air about 15 minutes from LAX. But she was reportedly in a distressed condition for most of the flight, according to Los Angeles Times.
Paramedics continued life-saving efforts for another 15 minutes once on the ground before restoring her pulse, TMZ reported.
Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott said the paramedicas provided “advanced life support, aggressively treated, and transported” the patient to UCLA Medical Center.
To determine the likelihood of a recovery, doctors will rate a patient on what’s known as the “Glasgow Coma Scale.”
Research has shown that the majority of people (87 percent) who score a three or a four on the scale within the first 24 hours are likely to die or remain in a vegetative state indefinitely.
But an equal number, about 87 percent, of those who score between 11 and 15 are likely to make a good recovery.
If Fisher were to regain consciousness, her recovery would be gradual. She might be alert for only a few minutes at a time initially. After that, her periods of consciousness would improve.
No two persons recover from a coma the same way, and age is a factor. Comedian Joan Rivers was also placed in a medically induced coma after she suffered cardiac arrest during a routine medical procedure in New York City. She never regained consciousness.
West Virginia miner Randal McCloy Jr. and Mexican boxer Ruben Contreras were put in a medically induced comas following a brain injury.
McCloy, who was injured in a mine explosion, was able to go home after three months. Contreras was back on his feet in four months.
So there is also room for optimism… and hope.
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