HEART attack sufferers will be given special 'cooling blankets to lower their temperature reduce the risk of brain damage after the novel treatment was ruled safe. Research had suggested that lowering the temperature of the brain by up to 5C (9F) could lower the likelihood that people who suffered cardiac arrest or stroke go on to suffer brain damage, but some doctors had 'significant uncertainties about the procedure. Now the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), a health watchdog, has published guidance stating that 'therapeutic hypothermia is safe and works well enough to be used routinely. It means NHS hospitals should all consider the treatment for critically ill heart attack patients who are thought to be at risk of brain damage, although Nice has not made any judgment or whether or not it should be funded. Professor Bruce Campbell, Chair of the Interventional Procedures Advisory Committee which produced the guidance for Nice, said: 'The evidence shows that controlled cooling of selected patients who have suffered cardiac arrest can increase their chances of survival. The therapy can also reduce the risk of severe brain damage, which can occur when blood flow to the brain is disturbed. 'While the outcomes of therapeutic hypothermia seem to look promising, we still need to find out more about precisely which patients are most likely to benefit from its use. This is why we are encouraging further research in this area. Telegraph