CPR Improves Cardiac Arrest Outcome

Circulation after cardiac arrest improves with CPR if defibrillators fail

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) When a defibrillator shock fails to restart the heart following cardiac arrest, patients are more likely to survive if they receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with an emphasis on chest compressions.

The increased survival is attributed to following American Heart Association CPR guidelines, which were updated in 2005 to suggest more chest compressions with fewer interruptions.

"Learn how to perform CPR in case of an emergency."

Dr. Peter J. Kudenchuk, lead author of the study and professor of medicine at the University of Washington, noted that implementing the newer guidelines results in better outcomes for cardiac arrest patients. He noted that patients who are not aided by defibrillator shocks have a low survival rate, but that their survival could be improved with an updated CPR method, which could save more than 2,500 lives a year in North America alone.

During the study researchers pinpointed 3,960 patients from Washington state who suffered cardiac arrest, but did not respond to defibrillator shocks, also called non-shockable cardiac arrest. About 75 percent of patients who suffer cardiac arrest do not benefit from the shocks.

Investigators compared survival rates among patients with non-shockable cardiac arrest from 2000 through 2004, before the guidelines were updated, to non-shockable cardiac arrest survival from 2005 through 2010.

They found that patients suffering non-shockable cardiac arrest were more likely to survive following the updated CPR guidelines change. About 5 percent of cardiac arrest patients that were unable to receive shocks or did not benefit from shocks survived to hospital discharge as compared to almost 7 percent after the guidelines change.

In addition, prior to the guidelines change, 3.4 percent of patients survived with good brain function as compared to 5.1 percent after the update. Survival at the one year mark was nearly doubled from 2.7 percent to 4.9 percent.

Additional research still is needed to determine better treatments for cardiac arrest patients, and to verify the findings of the current study.

The findings were recently published in American Heart Association journal, Circulation.

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Review Date: 
April 3, 2012
Last Updated:
April 7, 2012