Sinus bradycardia during hypothermia in comatose survivors of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest - a new early marker of favorable outcome?

Jakob Hartvig Thomsen, Christian Hassager, John Bro-Jeppesen, Helle Søholm, Niklas Nielsen, Michael Wanscher, Lars Køber, Steen Pehrson, Jesper Kjaergaard
Resuscitation 2015, 89: 36-42

BACKGROUND: Bradycardia is a common finding in patients undergoing therapeutic hypothermia (TH) following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA), presumably as a normal physiological response to low body temperature. We hypothesized that a normal physiological response with sinus bradycardia (SB) indicates less neurological damage and therefore would be associated with lower mortality.

METHODS: We studied 234 consecutive comatose survivors of OHCA with presumed cardiac etiology and shockable primary rhythm, who underwent a full 24-h TH-protocol (33°C) at a tertiary heart center (years: 2004-2010). Primary endpoint was 180-day mortality; secondary endpoint was favorable neurological outcome (180-day cerebral performance category: 1-2).

RESULTS: SB, defined as sinus rhythm <50 beats per minute during TH, was present in 115 (49%) patients. Baseline characteristics including sex, witnessed arrest, bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation and time to return of spontaneous circulation were not different between SB- and no-SB patients. However, SB-patients were younger, 57±14 vs. 63±14 years, p<0.001 and less frequently had known heart failure (7% vs. 20%, p<0.01). Patients experiencing SB during the hypothermia phase of TH had a 17% 180-day mortality rate compared to 38% in no-SB patients (p<0.001), corresponding to a 180-day hazard ratio (HRadjusted=0.45 (0.23-0.88, p=0.02)) in the multivariable analysis. Similarly, SB during hypothermia was directly associated with lower odds of unfavorable neurological outcome (ORunadjusted=0.42 (0.23-0.75, p<0.01).

CONCLUSION: Sinus bradycardia during therapeutic hypothermia is independently associated with a lower 180-day mortality rate and may thus be a novel, early marker of favorable outcome in comatose survivors of OHCA.

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