The association between blood lactate concentration on admission, duration of cardiac arrest, and functional neurological recovery in patients resuscitated from ventricular fibrillation

M Müllner, F Sterz, H Domanovits, W Behringer, M Binder, A N Laggner
Intensive Care Medicine 1997, 23 (11): 1138-43

OBJECTIVE: To assess the association between arterial lactate concentration on admission and the duration of human ventricular fibrillation cardiac arrest, and to what degree the arterial lactate concentration on admission is an early predictor of functional neurological recovery in human cardiac arrest survivors.

DESIGN: Cohort study. Arterial lactate concentrations and out-of-hospital data concerning cardiac arrest and cardiopulmonary resuscitation were collected retrospectively according to a standardized protocol. Functional neurological recovery was assessed prospectively at regular intervals for 6 months.

SETTING: Emergency department of an urban tertiary care hospital.

PATIENTS: A total of 167 primary survivors of witnessed out-of-hospital ventricular fibrillation cardiac arrest.

MEASUREMENTS: The association between arterial lactate concentration on admission, the duration of cardiac arrest, and functional neurological recovery was assessed. Further, we assessed whether admission concentrations of arterial lactate and duration of cardiac arrest can predict unfavorable functional neurological recovery. Functional neurological recovery was measured in cerebral performance categories (CPC). No or minimal functional impairment (CPC 1 and 2) was defined as favorable outcome; the remaining categories (CPC 3, 4 and 5) were defined as unfavorable functional neurological recovery.

RESULTS: In 167 patients, a weak association between total duration of cardiac arrest and admission levels of lactate (r = 0.49, P < 0.001) could be shown. With increasing admission concentrations of arterial lactate functional neurological recovery was more likely to be unfavorable (OR 1.15 per mmol/l increase, 95% CI 1.04-1.27). Nevertheless, only at very high levels of lactate (16.3 mmol/l) could unfavorable neurological recovery be detected with 100% specificity, yielding a very low sensitivity of 16%.

CONCLUSIONS: The arterial admission lactate concentration after out-of-hospital ventricular fibrillation cardiac arrest is a weak measure of the duration of ischemia. High admission lactate levels are associated with severe neurological impairment. However, this parameter has poor prognostic value for individual estimation of the severity of subsequent functional neurological impairment.

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