Published: 22-02-2024 06:48 | Updated: 22-02-2024 06:48

Can you stop a bleed?

Cecilia Odlind and Mattias Günther. Photo: Andreas Andersson.
Photo: Andreas Andersson

The increase in gun violence and Sweden's changing security situation has prompted researcher Mattias Günther and his team to reorient their research. In episode #140 of KI's podcast Medicinvetarna, he tells us how to reduce deaths from severe bleeding - and how best to protect yourself.

"All healthy people manage to get rid of about ten percent of the blood volume, but if we get above ten percent and closer to about 30% of the blood volume, we are approaching a level where it starts to become so dangerous that you can die from it," says Mattias Günther, anesthesiologist and intensive care physician at Södersjukhuset and researcher in experimental traumatology at the Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet. Together with his research team he has had to reorient the research due to the increase in gun violence.

Why should you be able to stop bleeding?

In Sweden, about 3000 people per year die from traumatic injuries, physical trauma/violence to the body. Of these, about two thirds die before they even arrive at the hospital, the so-called pre-hospital phase. If care had been optimized, some of them could probably have been saved by either bystanders or first responders. If you can stop bleeding in the vicinity of the victim, there is a greater chance of survival. Mattias Günther talks about three principles: 

  1. Raise awareness among the population to take action – something can almost always be done.
  2. Try to identify whether the bleed is dangerous (a bleeding in progress is generally dangerous).
  3. Apply pressure to stop the bleed (with a pressure bandage, hand, anything).