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Relatives Who Witness Loved One's CPR Fare Better: Study
Date:3/13/2013

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 13 (HealthDay News) -- Watching medical personnel perform CPR on loved ones whose hearts have stopped -- efforts that typically end in patient death -- may bode better for family members' mental health than being absent from the scene.

New research indicates these family members are far less likely to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety after the event than those who didn't watch the CPR, regardless of the outcome.

The study, done in France, also found that family-witnessed cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the home didn't affect patient survival rates, emotional stress in the medical team or the number of legal claims in the months afterward.

The research examined a phenomenon that has long been controversial but backed up by little evidence, said study co-author Dr. Stephen Borron, program director of the medical toxicology fellowship program at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso.

"I guess I was surprised there wasn't a greater perception of stress among [medical personnel]," Borron said. "If you asked physicians or other caregivers about having relatives in the room while resuscitation was taking place, most would anticipate the stress levels being higher, and this study didn't bear this out."

The research is published March 14 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Cardiac arrest accounts for 600,000 deaths each year in industrialized countries, and only 4 percent of patients in the study survived a month beyond CPR efforts. More than 80 percent of sudden cardiac arrests occur outside hospital settings -- which was the case for all the patients in this research.

Another paper in the same issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, however, indicated that nearly 60 percent of elderly patients suffering cardiac arrest in the hospital survived for
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