SOUTHAMPTON, England, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- A new study led by the University of Southampton in England has found there may be some form of life after death for the moments past brain function.
The AWARE (AWAreness during REsuscitation) study involved 2,060 patients from 15 hospitals in the United Kingdom, the United States and Austria who had gone through cardiac arrest.
"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," Dr. Sam Parnia, the study's lead author, said in a news release. "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'."
Roughly 40 percent of the 330 people who survived claimed to have experienced a level of awareness after cardiac arrest, and almost half of the 40 percent expressed memories not considered related to what is known as a near-death experience or an out-of-body experience.
"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," said Parnia, who was an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Southampton.
One survivor described his own resuscitation, detailing nurses' endeavors and the sounds of machines.
"The man described everything that had happened in the room, but importantly, he heard two bleeps from a machine that makes a noise at three minute intervals," Parnia told the Telegraph.
"In this case, consciousness and awareness appeared to occur during a three-minute period when there was no heartbeat." Parnia said this is "paradoxical" because the brain stops functioning 20-30 seconds after the heart stops.
The results of the study are published in the journal Resuscitation.