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8 April 2010, JellyBean @ 10:50 am

Some experience an out-of-body floating sensation, others an intense feeling of joy and peace.

Now scientists believe they have explained what causes the near death experiences reported by thousands of people on the operating table.

A study of heart attack victims has found a link between out of body experiences and high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood.

Researchers who made the discovery believe carbon dioxide may alter the chemical balance of the brain – and “trick” it into seeing lights, tunnels or dead people.

Around a fifth of people whose heart stops during a cardiac arrest claim to have had some kind of near death experience.

They include the sensation of someone’s life flashing before their eyes, intense feelings of calm, travelling down tunnels towards bright lights and encounters with dead people.

The new study in Slovenia, looked at the experiences of 52 patients treated for heart attacks in hospital. All the patients were “flatliners” – people who were resuscitated after their breath and heart stopped.

Researchers looked for a range of chemicals in their blood at the time of their treatment – including carbon dioxide. They also gave them questionnaires to find out if they had a near-death experience.

According to the study published in the journal Critical Care, 11 patients reported near-death experiences.

Patients with higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in their breath and arteries were more likely to have an unusual experience.

Read more:

Daily Mail: How carbon dioxide in the blood could be responsible for near-death experiences

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