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Postresuscitation care: entering a new era

Nolan, Jerry Pa; Soar, Jasmeetb

Current Opinion in Critical Care: June 2010 - Volume 16 - Issue 3 - p 216–222
doi: 10.1097/MCC.0b013e3283383dca
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation: Edited by Gavin D. Perkins

Purpose of review The purpose of this study is to discuss recent data relating to the treatment of cardiac arrest survivors. This is a rapidly evolving component of resuscitation medicine that impacts significantly on the quality of survival after cardiac arrest.

Recent findings The postcardiac arrest syndrome comprises postcardiac arrest brain injury, postcardiac arrest myocardial dysfunction, the systemic ischaemia/reperfusion response, and the persistent precipitating disease. Primary percutaneous coronary intervention is the preferred method for restoring coronary perfusion when cardiac arrest has been caused by an ST-elevation myocardial infarction. Many cardiac arrest survivors with non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction may also benefit from urgent percutaneous coronary intervention. Comatose cardiac arrest survivors should be managed with a moderate blood glucose target range of below 10 mmol/l (180 mg/dl). Therapeutic hypothermia is now generally accepted as part of a treatment strategy for comatose survivors of cardiac arrest, but its use may render conventional methods of prognostication unreliable.

Summary Survivors from cardiac arrest develop a postcardiac arrest syndrome. Postresuscitation care, including primary percutaneous coronary intervention, therapeutic hypothermia, and control of blood sugar, improves survival and neurological outcome in cardiac arrest survivors. Completely reliable prognostication in comatose survivors of cardiac arrest is difficult to achieve.

aRoyal United Hospital, Bath, UK

bSouthmead Hospital, North Bristol NHS Trust, Bristol, UK

Correspondence to Jerry P. Nolan, FRCA, FCEM, Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, Royal United Hospital, Bath BA1 3NG, UK Tel: +44 1225 825056; e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.