Alcohol in the blood increases the chance of survival in life-threatening injuries

Do you know this? You read a notice in the newspaper about a serious road accident with fatalities and then read "The drunk driver was the only one to survive". How can that be?

Alcohol in the blood increases the chance of survival in life-threatening injuries
© Photo by Michal Jarmoluk on Pixabay

Drunk drivers are more likely to be involved in serious accidents, but in cases of life-threatening injuries, a high blood alcohol level seems to increase the survival rate of accident victims. This was found in an analysis of medical data from nearly 8000 patients from intensive care units.

This is because, in the case of equally severe injuries, 7% of sober accident victims died, but only 1% of drunk accident victims of the same age, explains Christian de Virgilio of the University of California Medical Centre in Los Angeles.

However, a medical basis for the repeatedly statistically established influence of the alcohol level on the chance of survival remains unknown so far.

What is known, however, is that ethanol increases the effectiveness of catecholamines, which are used in intensive care medicine for resuscitation purposes. It has been found that alcohol inhibits certain NMDA receptors that control so-called excitotoxic processes that are harmful in brain injuries and strokes.

Despite the many individual findings, however, further studies are absolutely necessary before the influence of alcohol on trauma patients can possibly be used in emergency medicine. Although alcoholised patients get through serious injuries more easily, they have more complications after intensive medical interventions and their risk of infection is also higher.