Objectives: It is not known if aggressive postresuscitation care, including therapeutic hypothermia and percutaneous coronary intervention, benefits cardiac arrest survivors more than 75 years old. We compared treatments and outcomes of patients at six regional percutaneous coronary intervention centers in the United States to determine if aggressive care of elderly patients was warranted.
Design: Retrospective evaluation of registry data.
Setting: Six interventional cardiology centers in the United States.
Patients: Six hundred and twenty-five unresponsive cardiac arrest survivors aged 18–75 were compared with 129 similar patients aged more than 75.
Measurements and Main Results: Cardiac arrest survivors aged more than 75 had more comorbidities (3.0 ± 1.6 vs 2.0 ± 1.6, p < 0.001), but were matched to younger patients in initial heart rhythm, witnessed arrests, bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and total ischemic time. Patients aged more than 75 frequently underwent therapeutic hypothermia (97.7%), urgent coronary angiography (44.2%), and urgent percutaneous coronary intervention (24%). They had more sustained hyperglycemia (70.5% vs 59%, p = 0.015), less postcooling fever (25.2% vs 35.2%, p = 0.03), were more likely to have do-not-resuscitate orders (65.9% vs 48.2%, p < 0.001), and undergo withdrawal of life support (61.2% vs 47.5%, p = 0.005). Good functional outcome at 6 months (Cerebral Performance Category 1–2) was seen in 27.9% elderly versus 40.4% younger patients overall (p = 0.01) and in 44% versus 55% (p = 0.13) of patients with an initial shockable rhythm. Of 35 survivors more than 75 years old, 33 (94.8%) were classified as Cerebral Performance Category 1 or 2 at (mean) 6.5-month follow-up. In multivariable logistic regression modeling, age more than 75 was significantly associated with outcome only when the presence of a do-not-resuscitate order was excluded from the model.
Conclusions: Elderly patients were more likely to have do-not-resuscitate orders and to undergo withdrawal of life support. Age was independently associated with outcome only when correction for do-not-resuscitate status was excluded, and functional outcomes of elderly survivors were similar to younger patients. Exclusion of patients more than 75 years old from aggressive care is not warranted on the basis of age alone.