Evidence suggesting that life can continue after death have been revealed for the very first time by scientists.
The four-year international study of 2060 cardiac arrest cases across 15 hospitals by the AWARE (AWAreness during REsuscitation) study suggests that the themes relating to the experience of death appear far broader than what has been understood so far, or what has been described as so called near-death experiences.
The scientists found that in some cases of cardiac arrest, memories of visual awareness compatible with so called out-of-body experiences may correspond with actual events and a higher proportion of people may have vivid death experiences, but do not recall them due to the effects of brain injury or sedative drugs on memory circuits.
The study has revealed that widely used yet scientifically imprecise terms such as near-death and out-of-body experiences may not be sufficient to describe the actual experience of death. Future studies should focus on cardiac arrest, which is biologically synonymous with death, rather than ill-defined medical states sometimes referred to as 'near-death'.
It was also found that the recalled experience surrounding death merits a genuine investigation without prejudice.
Dr Sam Parnia, Assistant Professor of Critical Care Medicine and Director of Resuscitation Research at The State University of New York at Stony Brook, USA, and the study's lead author, explained that contrary to perception, death is not a specific moment but a potentially reversible process that occurs after any severe illness or accident causes the heart, lungs and brain to cease functioning. If attempts are made to reverse this process, it is referred to as 'cardiac arrest'; however, if these attempts do not succeed it is called 'death'. In this study we wanted to go beyond the emotionally charged yet poorly defined term of NDEs to explore objectively what happens when we die.
The study was published in the journal Resuscitation.