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Chapter Fifty - Neuroprotection

from Treatment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 December 2022

Louis R. Caplan
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre
Aishwarya Aggarwal
John F. Kennedy Medical Center
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Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time.

—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The history of neuroprotection might start on a cold winter day with the tale of Ann Green, a young serving girl found guilty of having a child out of wedlock, allegedly fathered by a member of the English aristocracy. She was hanged at Carfax, Oxford, one December morning in 1650 [1]. At the execution she was clearly hypothermic, and likely hypoglycemic. Rendered unconscious, the body was taken down and conveyed from the site of public execution to the lodgings of Thomas Willis. In preparation for her dissection, and to confirm she was dead, Willis’s technician stomped on her chest and unexpectedly revived her. She recovered over several hours, leaving no discernible neurological damage. Despite a period of anoxia and a transient global ischemic insult, her recovery was because of prompt reperfusion assisted by the then unknown but later discovered neuroprotective properties of hypothermia and hypoglycemia, accounting for her impressive neurological outcome.

Stories of Stroke
Key Individuals and the Evolution of Ideas
, pp. 478 - 490
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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