At least 1 in 10 people treated for cardiac arrest, a condition in which the heart stops pumping after it beats unusually quickly, describes mystical-seeming experiences that accompanied the brush with death, according to the largest survey to date of this phenomenon among heart patients.
In contrast, only about 1 in 100 people treated for other comparably serious cardiac problems, such as a heart attack or unstable angina, says that his or her current physical symptoms led to near-death experiences, says psychiatrist Bruce Greyson of the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville.
Greyson directed interviews of 1,595 people admitted to his hospital's cardiac-care unit during a recent 30-month period. A total of 27 individuals, including 11 of 116 cardiac-arrest patients, reported having had a near-death experience along with their latest heart symptoms. Near-death events often included sensations of time speeding up or slowing down, peacefulness, separatio