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If you think life ends at death, you may have to think again.
People may still have consciousness after ‘death’, says a large-scale study involving 2060 patients from 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria. It has found that patients experience real events for up to a three-minute period after their heart has stopped beating. These are normally described as out-of-body experiences (OBEs) or near-death experiences (NDEs).
The Awareness during Resuscitation (Aware) study, sponsored by the University of Southampton in the UK, used objective markers to establish whether the experiences were real or hallucinatory. The results showed that 39% of patients who survived cardiac arrest described a perception of awareness though they did not have explicit recall.
A total of 46% experienced a broad range of mental recollections, 9% had experiences compatible with NDEs and 2% exhibited full awareness compatible with OBEs with explicit recall of ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ events. This means that after the heart stops pumping blood to the brain, it takes a few minutes before it shuts down, and while in the process of shutting down and dying, the brain does some strange things that makes us see and hear things.
This is paradoxical, since the brain typically ceases functioning within 20-30 seconds of the heart stopping and doesn’t resume again until the heart has been restarted.
This is significant because it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions, occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted, but not an experience corresponding with ‘real’ events when the heart isn’t beating.

Jason Lee

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