Update on advanced life support and resuscitation techniques

Mauricio F Hong, Paul Dorian
Current Opinion in Cardiology 2005, 20 (1): 1-6

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This article is a review of the most recent findings in resuscitation techniques in advanced cardiac life support. The article focuses particularly on the period after July 1, 2003, but relevant new findings before this period are also included.

RECENT FINDINGS: Randomized clinical trial results suggest that the current cardiopulmonary resuscitation and advanced cardiac life support guidelines may need to be modified. Early defibrillation during the electrical phase of cardiac arrest remains the most crucial intervention, but performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation before defibrillation may be more effective, as compared with immediate defibrillation, during the circulatory phase of cardiac arrest. Biphasic waveforms are superior to monophasic damped sine waveforms in achieving defibrillation. Novel cardiopulmonary resuscitation methods that increase negative intrathoracic pressure promote an increase in blood flow return to the heart. These devices have been correlated with improved short-term survival rates during the circulatory phase of cardiac arrest. Vasopressin administration, given alone or in combination with epinephrine, should be considered during the circulatory phase of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, particularly in patients presenting with asystole as the initial rhythm. Induction of hypothermia during the metabolic phase in cardiac arrest survivors improves 6-month survival rates and neurologic outcomes.

SUMMARY: Strategies to improve the low survival outcomes of cardiac arrest victims are available. Clinical trials testing these strategies suggest benefit from certain interventions but are not definitive. These different therapeutic interventions should be performed in a phase-specific-oriented fashion according to the three-phase time-sensitive model of cardiac arrest.

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