Somebody asked about it on the Dexter, and I'm curious to know the answer (nobody there seems to know).

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In the show, Dexter kills people by stabbing them directly in the heart with quite a large blade (pictured) and quite deeply. They inhale or exhale sharply, their eyes roll back, and they're dead within 5 seconds.

Medical students, how realistic is that? Would it, as one person suggested, immediately reduce the blood flow to the head and cause a person to pass out before they know what's hit them? I just assumed that it would take a minute or more, and that it was sped up on TV to reduce the impact and goriness of it all.


You'd lose consciousness from shock within the first 15 seconds and you'd be brain dead within 3-5 minutes. Final death (ruled by a coroner) would come within 8 likely.

The reports from Steve Irwin's death was pretty much like that. He pulled the barb out of his chest and pretty much lost consciousness with in seconds.

"It shows that Steve came over the top of the ray and the tail came up, and spiked him here (in the chest), and he pulled it out and the next minute he's gone," Stainton told reporters in Cairns, where Irwin's body was taken for an autopsy.

I think it would take at least a minute or so before they would lose consciousness. They could also still live after being stabbed through the heart.

I'm no med student, but the first thing that would happen is likely increasing dull pain at the lack of blood getting to every muscle (think like running too hard for too long), followed by a general loss of sight (need blood to see), and then hearing.

Your chest would tighten up as your diaphragm became unable to cope with the lack of blood, and you'd suddenly feel very squeezed inside and helplessly out-of-control as your lungs cannot move.

Things black out as the blood stops carrying oxygen to your head. Your thoughts become hazy and disjoint. Then you pass out. Then you die.

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This depends on a few things. First what size the weapon is and second where in the heart it is plunged into. Generally any puncture of the right ventricle or major veins/artieries result in tamponade (the heart pericardium-sac fills with blood and stops the heart from expanding to fill itself) and a very quick death. If the weapon is left in, there are a few minutes of life possible. Now if the weapon punctures the left ventricle a person can live for a while longer because the wall of the left side is thicker and tends to seal itself after being stabbed. If the hole/puncture is big enough to compromise the pericardium and the heart then person usually bleeds out - to death - fast or slow depending on the size of the hole and if the weapon is left in or removed. If you are lucky enough to survive the first few seconds - DON'T REMOVE THE WEAPON - call 911, sit up right so you don't drown in your own blood and you might have a chance to make it to surgery to repair the heart and live. Pull the weapon out and death is almost always the outcome. Simple answer is you have between a couple seconds to about a half hour after you are stabbed to live.