Do cardiac arrest survivors who have NOT had an NDE have equally significant changes in life attitudes?

One theme that is often seen in reports of NDE is a significant, sustained & transformational re-evaluation and/or re-alignment of life view paradigms following the event.

Typically, these changes involve the following domains:

  • Appreciation for life
  • Self-acceptance
  • Concern for others
  • Concern for worldly achievement
  • Concern for social/planetary issues
  • Quest for meaning/purpose
  • Spirituality/Religiosity
  • Appreciation for death

Source: Persistence of Attitude Changes After Near-Death Experiences (pdf)

This raises the question, do similar life view changes occur in people who have survived a life-threatening event but have NOT had a NDE?

This paper published in the ‘Diversity of Research in Health Journal’ looks at a meta-summary of existing studies into the enduring physical, mental, cognitive and social behaviours of survivors of cardiac arrest and their families.

Title: Experiences of Survivors and Family Members Following a Sudden Cardiac Arrest: A Metasummary
: J. Janssen. P. Montgomery. S. Mossey. S. Hoy. S. Dowdall-Smith & K. Montgomery
: Diversity of Research in Health Journal
Published date
: March 2023
Link to full paper.

A total of 19 studies were selected. It included 166 survivors of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and their family members (n=122).

The studies were analysed, and from that information, 8 topical categories were finally formulated.

Following SCA, survivors and families were abruptly confronted by the need to acknowledge the physiological, emotional, and cognitive vulnerabilities, imposed by the cardiac event, described as a death or near-death experience. Such paradigm life events have been identified by other researchers as: precipitating vivid recollections and subsequent reflections on one’s previous life course what was and is important, what was lost, and what is possible as life is transformed in the future and, living consciously with realigned life priorities and commitment to living a fulfilling existence

  1. Acknowledging life has changed.
  2. Confronting Mortality
  3. Regaining Former Life
  4. Interacting within the Family
  5. Interacting within the brorader social context
  6. Involving healthcare providors
  7. Evolving Health Status
  8. Enacting a new life

Note: This study did not evaluate for any recollection of a NDE amongst survivors.
However, based on previous estimations of the percentage of survivors who recount a NDE (ranging between 10 and 18 percent1), we can assume that the majority of them did not.

In conclusion:

I think it is obvious that surviving a cardiac arrest is a pretty significant event and is bound to pressure behavioural changes including increased gratitude for life, re-examining priorities, and a desire to improve well-being and relationships.

It is interesting to look at the results of this study which contain a mix of positive and negative psychological impacts. Including instances of increased fear of death, disbelief that the cardiac arrest even happened to them, and worries/fears about the future.

In comparison, survivors of cardiac arrest who report an NDE usually (but not always) have deep, sustained, positive experiences that are often accompanied by some sort of spiritual epiphany.

  1. Source.

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