A group of researchers recently binge-watched episodes of Star Trek to determine the incidents and causes of cardiac arrest in the 24th century, and their findings were surprising.
It turns out that cardiac arrest is just as fatal in the 24th century as it is today: over 90 percent of incidents in the three Star Trek series watched by researchers ended in death.
That seems disappointing, all things considered, but Gene Roddenberry's series was not just a depiction of the future, but also a statement about the world today. But it is interesting that a franchise that resulted in the invention of both cell phones and iPads didn't figure out how to save more patients from cardiac arrest.
Cardiac arrest is when blood circulation suddenly stops in the body after the heart fails to contract. It is generally followed by a loss of consciousness, and if left untreated, can damage the brain and can lead to death within minutes. Today's treatment usually involves both CPR and defibrillation to shock the heart back into rhythm.
Researchers watched over 500 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. While they watched, they noted every incident of cardiac arrest that occurred during those episodes. The number was around 96, with 90 percent of those incidents proving fatal.
However, there is one remarkable difference in those incidents of cardiac arrest than today: their causes. In Star Trek, cardiac arrest is often the result of serious physical injuries, trauma, poisoning and energy weapons.
Currently, the most common cause of cardiac arrest is heart attacks, usually caused by coronary heart disease, which is something that will seem to be gone by the 24th century. Researchers believe that this is because people of the future will live healthier, eat better and exercise more, than we do today. So we suppose, that's some progress.
However, there was another big difference in something we know today: those who suffer cardiac arrest in a hospital have a higher chance of survival. In Star Trek, that doesn't make a difference, but researchers noted this is probably due to the invention of hand-held tricorders and teleportation, both of which makes medical help accessible from nearly anywhere.
"Cardiac arrest remains a critical event in the 24th century," writes the study authors. "We observed a change of etiology from cardiac toward traumatic origin. Quick access to medical help and new prognostic tools were established to treat cardiac arrest."
[Photo Credit: Paramount Television]