The body lives on after death

Life is not over even if the heart has stopped. The skin, teeth and limbs live on for several hours, and the latest research has revealed that thoughts fly through…

Life is not over even if the heart has stopped. The skin, teeth and limbs live on for several hours, and the latest research has revealed that thoughts fly through the brain seconds after the heart has stopped.

1. The body

Days or weeks before death: The body shuts down

Approximately 90% of all deaths in this country are related to old age. Death is usually several days or weeks away, and instead of shutting down the body from one moment to the next, both physical and mental functions slowly slow down. Often there are several symptoms that indicate that the person is dying and only has a short time left.

Symptoms in dying people

  • Cold

The heart works hard to pump blood around the body and concentrates on supplying blood to the most important organs. Hands, feet and later also legs therefore receive less blood than otherwise, in addition to becoming cold and pale.

  • Sleep

The metabolism slows down and only energy is left for vital bodily functions. As a result, people who are dying sleep a lot and it can be difficult to wake them up.

  • Confusion

The slow metabolism causes the functioning of the brain to slow down, and dying people find it difficult to understand the place and time and even do not recognize their loved ones.

  • Appetite and thirst

It takes energy to eat and drink, as well as to digest the food. As a result, dying people have a limited appetite for fluids and food.

  • A breath

Reduced blood flow affects the lungs and breathing, so breathing becomes irregular with long pauses. In other cases, dying people go to soup whales.

2. The heart

0-5 minutes after death: The heart stops

When the heartbeat and breathing stop, the patient is said to be clinically dead or cardiac death. However, the cells in the brain and elsewhere in the body do not die as soon as the transfer of blood to oxygen and glucose stops. As a result, brain dead people can be revived if the heart can be quickly restarted.

The dead person thinks on

However, the thoughts still seem to fly through the brain of the deceased.

In one experiment conducted in 2013, neurologist Jimo Borjigin at the University of Michigan in the United States measured brain activity in rats before and after death.

Jimo anesthetized the animals and then induced cardiac arrest by injecting saline into the heart. For the next 30 seconds, the brain waves continued to oscillate, much like they do during full consciousness, and the activity was even higher than usual.

If the scientist is to be believed, this may explain why about 20 percent of those who are resuscitated after cardiac arrest describe dreamlike visions.


Brain waves measured at six locations in the brain (colors) show normal consciousness.

2 seconds after cardiac arrest

The brain still has enough oxygen. Brain activity similar to normal consciousness, but slightly greater.

7 seconds after cardiac arrest

Lack of oxygen manifests itself. Slower activity in almost all brain centers.

17 seconds after cardiac arrest

The activity increases momentarily in individual brain centers.

31 seconds after cardiac arrest

Brain activity fades away.

Slower CPR works best

About a third of all cardiac arrest patients die before the month is over. Doctors have long wondered about this high death rate, but the latest research indicates that the cells are damaged if they receive oxygen too quickly after a lack of oxygen.

One 2012 study found that the chance of surviving cardiac arrest increased by 12 percent if doctors extended CPR from 16 minutes to 25 minutes.

Chances of survival after cardiac arrest

The chances of surviving a cardiac arrest vary depending on how quickly the person gets help.

– 6%

The person first receives a heart attack when the ambulance arrives.

– 17%

The person is immediately given CPR and assisted breathing.

– 40%

The person receives immediate specialist help in a hospital

3. The brain

5-15 minutes after death: The brain gives up

Unlike other organs, the brain does not have additional energy reserves. When breathing stops and the heart no longer pumps blood through the vessels, the brain cells no longer receive oxygen or glucose to maintain normal life processes. After a few seconds, the body stops functioning normally and begins to die after five minutes.

Cooling protects the brain after CPR

When people go into cardiac arrest, the flow of oxygen to the brain stops. The lack of oxygen does not in itself cause damage to the brain cells, but triggers harmful chemical reactions. These processes do not stop, even if the patient is resuscitated, but are intensified by the sudden flow of oxygen and can continue for days.

As a result, doctors try to slow down the chemical reactions by cooling patients down immediately after CPR. It only takes a few degrees to lower the body to slow down all bodily processes.

Patients who are cooled after CPR have less brain damage.

In one experiment, the body temperature of piglets was lowered by five to six degrees for one to two days when doctors resuscitated them after cardiac arrest, and there was less brain damage among these piglets than those that were not cooled.

Three areas of the brain are damaged first

The areas of the brain that require the most oxygen consumption are the cerebral cortex, medulla, and medullary nuclei.

These centers control movement, memory, and coordination, among other things, and those who are revived after five to ten minutes often suffer permanent damage to these areas as a result.

After ten minutes without breathing or a heartbeat, the brain damage becomes so great that people either die permanently or fall into a coma and never wake up.

Hypoxia in seconds

Oxygen levels in the brain drop rapidly when the heart stops pumping blood around the body and basic functions begin to fail.

– 0 seconds

Oxygen ratio: 100-80 percent

No symptoms. Low oxygen levels are a daily occurrence for people living at an altitude of 4500 meters.

– 2 seconds

Oxygen ratio: 80-60 percent

Peripheral vision deteriorates, thinking becomes dull and it is difficult to understand what is being said. The person feels neither pain nor restlessness and therefore relaxes comfortably.

– 20 seconds

Oxygen ratio: 60-40 percent

The person sees everything black, cannot speak or move, loses feeling for his body and his personality. Doesn’t seem conscious but is nonetheless.

– 5 minutes

More and more brain centers are damaged, until the person is finally dead.

4. The corpse

Just a few days after death: The body decomposes

After death, all bodily functions cease and there is no longer any energy available to maintain the systematic processes that characterize a living body. Just a quarter of an hour after the last heartbeat, death begins to leave its mark on the body, and after just a few days, the body gradually begins to dissolve.

The young girl’s body was in good condition because it had been lying in a swamp in acidic soil.

The police investigate a 2600-year-old body

How a corpse decomposes is completely determined by the soil in which it rests. In 2000, a body was found in Germany and the police initially thought it was a young woman who had disappeared 30 years earlier.

However, with a carbon analysis it was possible to reveal that the young girl had died before 2600  years.

She had been resting in a swamp the entire time, and the acidic soil had prevented bacteria from breaking down the corpse. The girl was so well preserved that scientists were able to reconstruct her face.

Five distinct symptoms emerge at the time of death

When people are found dead, it’s up to the pathologist to figure out when the person died and if a crime was committed. The skin changes after death and the body gradually begins to decay.

An expert can time the time of death within a few hours by observing the corpse and sensing the action of the muscles.

The body decomposes in 30 days

When all bodily functions stop, the body quickly begins to decay as the molecules detach from each other. At the same time, bacteria, fungi and insects feed on the corpse. Both are very important when experts try to determine the time of death.


– 1-3 days

The skin takes on a greenish tint. Enzymes in the body break down large molecules such as proteins and carbohydrates. Caterpillar flies appear sooner than lips, often after just a few minutes, and lay their eggs in the corpse.


– 4-7 days

The abdomen begins to bulge out, but gas builds up in it, and the skin becomes covered with blisters. Intestinal bacteria invade the body and the fly eggs hatch as maggots.


– 8-18 days

The whole body begins to ooze out and soften. Gases spread from the abdominal cavity to other parts of the body through the blood vessels. Scabies of various kinds take up residence in the body.


– 19-30 days

Nails and hair fall off the corpse, the body softens and becomes slimy. Internal organs dissolve and all tissue merges. Jumping tails, small ants, beetles and shrews feed on, among other things, the corpses.


– 1 month or many years

The corpse smell disappears and the bones dry little by little and dissolve due to the acid in the soil. Bacteria and animal life die, because all nutrition is exhausted.

Related Posts