Post-hypothermia fever is associated with increased mortality after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest

John Bro-Jeppesen, Christian Hassager, Michael Wanscher, Helle Søholm, Jakob H Thomsen, Freddy K Lippert, Jacob E Møller, Lars Køber, Jesper Kjaergaard
Resuscitation 2013, 84 (12): 1734-40

OBJECTIVE: Post-cardiac arrest fever has been associated with adverse outcome before implementation of therapeutic hypothermia (TH), however the prognostic implications of post-hypothermia fever (PHF) in the era of modern post-resuscitation care including TH has not been thoroughly investigated. The aim of the study was to assess the prognostic implication of PHF in a large consecutive cohort of comatose survivors after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) treated with TH.

METHODS: In the period 2004-2010, a total of 270 patients resuscitated after OHCA and surviving a 24-h protocol of TH with a target temperature of 32-34°C were included. The population was stratified in two groups by median peak temperature (≥38.5°C) within 36h after rewarming: PHF and no-PHF. Primary endpoint was 30-days mortality and secondary endpoint was neurological outcome assessed by Cerebral Performance Category (CPC) at hospital discharge.

RESULTS: PHF (≥38.5°C) was associated with a 36% 30-days mortality rate compared to 22% in patients without PHF, plog-rank=0.02, corresponding to an adjusted hazard rate (HR) of 1.8 (95% CI: 1.1-2.7), p=0.02). The maximum temperature (HR=2.0 per °C above 36.5°C (95% CI: 1.4-3.0), p=0.0005) and the duration of PHF (HR=1.6 per 8h (95% CI: 1.3-2.0), p<0.0001) were also independent predictors of 30-days mortality in multivariable models. Good neurological outcome (CPC1-2) versus unfavourable outcome (CPC3-5) at hospital discharge was found in 61% vs. 39% in the PHF group compared to 75% vs. 25% in the No PHF group, p=0.02.

CONCLUSIONS: Post-hypothermia fever ≥38.5°C is associated with increased 30-days mortality, even after controlling for potential confounding factors. Avoidance of PHF as a therapeutic target should be evaluated in prospective randomized trials.

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