Post-cardiac arrest care key to survival

Oct 23, 2008

The urgent need for treatment doesn't end when a person regains a pulse after suffering sudden cardiac arrest — healthcare providers need to move quickly into post-cardiac arrest care to keep a person alive and ensure the best outcome.

That's the conclusion of the American Heart Association science advisory published today in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Brain injury, heart dysfunction, systemic inflammation and the underlying disease that caused the cardiac arrest all contribute to the high death rate of patients who initially have their pulse re-started. Collectively, these symptoms are known as post-cardiac arrest syndrome.

The largest modern report of cardiac arrest resuscitation was published by the National Registry of CPR in 2006. Among the 19,819 adults and 524 children whose hearts were re-started, in-hospital mortality rates were 67 percent and 55 percent, respectively.

The new statement says there is growing evidence that post-cardiac arrest care can lower the death rate and improve functional outcome for these patients.

"Although we have become better at restarting the heart, we are only beginning to learn and implement the best ways to keep patients alive and minimize brain damage after their heart is re-started," said Robert W. Neumar, M.D., Ph.D., head of the statement writing committee and associate professor of emergency medicine and associate director of the Center for Resuscitation Science at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Research shows that many aspects of post cardiac arrest syndrome can be treated. The advisory discussed treatments for various types of patients such as:

  • Unconscious adult patients resuscitated after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest were recommended to receive mild therapeutic hypothermia, which is cooling to 32°C to 34°C (89.6°F to 93.2°F) for at least 12 to 24 hours. Therapeutic hypothermia can improve survival and decrease the risk of brain damage.

  • Patients resuscitated from a cardiac arrest caused by a heart attack (as seen on an electrocardiogram, or ECG) should have immediate coronary angiography (an X-ray examination of the heart arteries) to check for artery blockages. Standard guidelines for heart attack treatment should be followed, which may include an artery-opening procedure (angioplasty) or administering a clot-busting drug to re-establish blood flow to the heart.

    The advisory also discussed treatment for high blood sugar, seizures and infection, all of which are common concerns after cardiac arrest resuscitation. Also, inserting an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is indicated for many patients with good neurological function.

    Source: American Heart Association

    Explore further: Video shows blind mother seeing baby for first time

    add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf
  • Related Stories

    Using less fish to test chemicals safety

    18 minutes ago

    The JRC has released a new strategy on how to replace, reduce and refine the use of fish in testing of chemicals' effect on flora and fauna in water (aquatic toxicity) and chemicals' uptake and concentration ...

    Snack attack: Bears munch on ants and help plants grow

    19 minutes ago

    Tiny ants may seem like an odd food source for black bears, but the protein-packed bugs are a major part of some bears' diets and a crucial part of the food web that not only affects other bugs, but plants too.

    Study uncovers secrets of a clump-dissolving protein

    53 minutes ago

    Workhorse molecules called heat-shock proteins contribute to refolding proteins that were once misfolded and clumped, causing such disorders as Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Alzheimer's ...

    Recommended for you

    The 'fifth taste,' umami, could be beneficial for health

    5 hours ago

    The umami taste could have an important and beneficial role in health, according to research published in the open access journal Flavour. The journal's special series of articles 'The Science of Taste' also finds that ' ...

    Why menthol chills your mouth when it's not actually cold

    Jan 22, 2015

    Try putting an ice-cube in your mouth. The insides of your mouth and tongue instantly turn numb. Hold it in still and you will feel pain. Now try sucking on peppermint. The mint itself is at room temperature, ...

    User comments : 0

    Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

    Click here to reset your password.
    Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.