The oldest medical description of a "near-death" experience has been discovered in a report from a French physician in 1740, scientists say.
The description was found by Dr Phillippe Charlier, a medical doctor and archeologist in France, in a book he had bought in an antique shop.
The report was written by Pierre-Jean du Monchaux, a military physician from northern France, who described a case of near-death experience in the book "Anecdotes de Medecine."
The book describes the case of a patient, a famous apothecary (pharmacist) in Paris, who temporarily fell unconscious and then reported that he saw a light so pure and bright that he thought he must have been in heaven.
Monchaux compared his patient with other people who reported similar experiences, caused by drowning, hypothermia and hanging, 'Live Science' reported.
Monchaux speculated that in all of reported cases of near-death experience, the patients were left with little blood in the veins in their skin, and abundant blood flowing in the vessels within their brains, giving rise to the vivid and strong sensations.
However, modern researchers think it is likely the lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain that puts the organ in a state of full alarm and causes the sensations associated with near-death experiences.