Survival After Cardiac Arrest in ICU May Depend on Cause

Researchers hope findings will help families with end-of-life decision-making

MONDAY, Aug. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term survival rates are low for intensive care unit (ICU) patients who suffer certain types of cardiac arrest, a new study finds.

Canadian researchers looked at data from 517 patients, average age 67, who suffered cardiac arrest while in the ICUs of four Alberta hospitals. Of these patients, 27 percent survived to hospital discharge, 24 percent for one year, and 16 percent for five years.

General ICU patients were more likely to die than those in coronary care or cardiac surgical ICUs.

Pulseless electrical activity, asystolic arrest (absence of heartbeat) and a longer period of resuscitation were among the factors associated with a high risk of death after cardiac arrest in the ICU.

"Although overall survival among ICU patients may have greatly improved, survival among those experiencing cardiac arrest in the ICU, particularly arrest due to pulseless electrical activity or asystole, remained comparatively poor," Dr. Demetrios Kutsogiannis, University of Alberta, and colleagues wrote in a journal news release.

"We hope this study will help inform the public about outcomes after arrests in hospital intensive and coronary care units," they continued. "It is hoped that improved informed decision-making regarding end-of-life resuscitation attempts may occur between patients, families and their physicians prior to serious illness and potential coronary or ICU care."

The study is published Aug. 15 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about cardiac arrest.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association Journal, news release, Aug. 15, 2011

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