THURSDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Getting a heart beating again is only the first step in saving a life after a sudden cardiac arrest, a new report shows.
An advisory, published in the Oct. 23 issue of Circulation, said that health-care providers must move more quickly after resuscitation or risk the losing the patient to the original cause of the heart failure.
"Although we have become better at restarting the heart, we are only beginning to learn and implement the best ways to keep patients alive and minimize brain damage after their heart is re-started," Dr. Robert W. Neumar, head of the heart association's statement writing committee and associate director of the Center for Resuscitation Science at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
A 2006 report on cardiac arrest resuscitation found that of more than 20,000 people whose hearts were re-started, the in-hospital mortality rates were 67 percent for adults and 55 percent for children.
Brain injury, heart dysfunction, systemic inflammation and the underlying disease that caused the cardiac arrest all contributed to this high death rate. Collectively, these symptoms are known as post-cardiac arrest syndrome.
Among the treatments the advisory statement said may hold hope for improving the prognosis of these patients:
The advisory also called for inserting an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), if needed, in patients with good neurological function. It also reinforced the need for treating high blood sugar, seizures and infection, common conditions that follow cardiac arrest resuscitation.
The American Heart Association has more about signs of a cardiac arrest.
SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Oct. 23, 2008