Objectives: Therapeutic hypothermia (TH) has been shown to improve survival and neurological outcome in patients resuscitated after out of hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) from ventricular fibrillation/ventricular tachycardia (VF/VT). We evaluated the effects of using a TH protocol in a large community hospital emergency department (ED) for all patients with neurological impairment after resuscitated OHCA regardless of presenting rhythm. We hypothesized improved mortality and neurological outcomes without increased complication rates.
Methods: Our TH protocol entails cooling to 33 C for 24 hours with an endovascular catheter. We studied patients treated with this protocol from November 2006 to November 2008. All non-pregnant, unresponsive adult patients resuscitated from any initial rhythm were included. Exclusion criteria were initial hypotension or temperature less than 30 C, trauma, primary intracranial event, and coagulopathy. Control patients treated during the 12 months before the institution of our TH protocol met the same inclusion and exclusion criteria. We recorded survival to hospital discharge, neurological status at discharge, and rates of bleeding, sepsis, pneumonia, renal failure, and dysrhythmias in the first 72 hours of treatment.
Results: Mortality rates were 71.1% (95% CI, 56-86%) for 38 patients treated with TH and 72.3% (95% CI 59-86%) for 47 controls. In the TH group, 8% of patients (95% CI, 0-17%) had a good neurological outcome on discharge, compared to 0 (95% CI 0-8%) in the control group. In 17 patients with VF/VT treated with TH, mortality was 47% (95% CI 21-74%) and 18% (95% CI 0-38%) had good neurological outcome; in 9 control patients with VF/VT, mortality was 67% (95% CI 28-100%), and 0% (95% CI 0-30%) had good neurological outcome. The groups were well-matched with respect to sex and age. Complication rates were similar or favored the TH group.
Conclusions: Instituting a TH protocol for OHCA patients with any presenting rhythm appears safe in a community hospital ED. A trend towards improved neurological outcome in TH patients was seen, but did not reach significance. Patients with VF appeared to derive more benefit from TH than patients with other rhythms. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):367-372.]