Eli5: In movies people instruct bleeding out characters to stay with them and to keep their eyes open. Does falling asleep/ blacking out actually accelerate the process of dying or is that just a movie cliche?

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Eli5: In movies people instruct bleeding out characters to stay with them and to keep their eyes open. Does falling asleep/ blacking out actually accelerate the process of dying or is that just a movie cliche?

In: Biology

Unconsciousness doesn’t accelerate the process of dying, it’s just more helpful if people stay conscious so they can answer questions that first responders might have for them or just generally help people trying to help them. The way movies do it is almost always for dramatic effect.

As we know, oxygen binds to hemoglobin in our blood stream, allowing oxygen to reach tissues. This process is known as perfusion, so when the tissues are not receiving blood or less blood it can cause tissues to lose function or die. Whe. There’s a massive blood loss and not nearly enough blood is being circulated, it leads into what’s known as hypovolemic shock (shock is the disruption of perfusion in some form or another). Shock leads into organ failure and then death unless the primary cause of shock can be assessed and repaired.

During the course of hypovolemic shock, the body is doing its best to compensate. The heart and breath rate are much faster to keep drawing in oxygen and circulating it to vital organs to keep the body alive.

So my guess for the logic is that if they can stay awake and breathing, they can maintain some perfusion. However, when you’ve got one hemoglobin cycling oxygen, you’re gonna have a bad time.

It’s a movie cliché. Much more interesting and good for the actors to have 2 people interacting than just one person fumbling around an unconscious person doing who knows what. It could also be a holdover from old timey medicine where there wasn’t a lot you could do but yelling at them to stay awake meant you were doing *something*.

A person awake is easier to see a change in their condition. If a person slumps over, are they sleeping? Unconscious? or dead? A person awake and talking to you is alert, eyes closed and resting things changes get harder to notice.