For Cardiac Arrest, Rx May Save the Day

Amiodarone, lidocaine in cardiac arrest patients helped improve survival to hospital

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) When patients enter cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, certain heart rhythm medications could help patients survive the ambulance trip to the hospital.

When paramedics administered amiodarone (brand name Cordarone) or lidocaine (Xylocaine) to cardiac arrest patients who hadn't responded to electrical shocks, those patients were more likely to make it to the hospital alive, a new study found.

The medications didn't appear to raise overall survival by much, but the University of Washington Medical Center researchers behind this study said they still helped a little — particularly if the patient's cardiac arrest had initially been witnessed by a bystander.

Around 10 percent of patients who have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survive, according to the National Institutes of Health. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart's rhythm stops or changes.

Emergency medical personnel often give medications like amiodarone and lidocaine to cardiac arrest patients who are not responding to defibrillation. But little research has shown whether this strategy is effective.

This three-year study of 3,026 patients, published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests that it may be.

This study was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and others. Authors disclosed various potential conflicts of interest.

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Review Date: 
April 11, 2016
Last Updated:
April 12, 2016