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New Method Boosts Cardiac Arrest Survival
Date:3/11/2008

Emergency crews focus on uninterrupted chest compression, experts say

TUESDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- Cardiac arrest outside of the hospital can quickly turn deadly, but a new method of restarting stalled hearts might boost people's chances of survival, researchers say.

The overall survival rate for people given the technique -- called minimally interrupted cardiac resuscitation (MIRC) -- was 9.1 percent, compared to 3.8 percent of those who got standard emergency measures, according to the report in the March 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

And in a subgroup of people who experienced both cardiac arrest and the chaotic heartbeat called ventricular fibrillation, survival rose from about 12 percent before MIRC to 28.4 percent after, the researchers said

Current guidelines call for people who have cardiac arrest to receive an electric shock and periodic chest compressions to get their heart beating again. MIRC's innovation is that it emphasizes near-constant chest compression.

"The technique minimizes all interruption of chest compression, and maximizes the time when chest compressions are being given," said study author Dr. Bentley J. Bobrow, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz. "Patients get pre-shock and post-shock chest depression, and also [the drug] epinephrine," he said.

The blood flow produced by standard chest compression is simply not enough to provide sufficient blood to the heart and the brain, Bobrow explained. In fact, national guidelines issued last year emphasized chest compression over rescue breathing, recommending two breaths for every 30 chest compressions, effectively doubling the number of recommended compressions.

The new study, done in two Arizona cities, included 2,460 people who experienced cardiac arrest outside of the hospital -- 1,799 of whom got treatment before emerge
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