July 20, 2018

Background: Epinephrine(adrenaline) has been used in advanced life support in cardiac arrest since the early 1960s. Despite the routine recommendation for its use, evidence to support administration is less than ideal.  Although it is clear from multiple observational studies that epinephrine improves return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) and short-term survival, most evidence suggests an absence of improvements in survival with good neurologic outcomes.  In cardiac arrest we want to take advantage of the alpha effects of epinephrine, including peripheral vasoconstriction, and therefore increasing aortic diastolic pressure, which in turn helps augment coronary and cerebral blood flow.  On the other hand, we want to avoid the potentially detrimental beta effects including dysrhythmias, decreased microcirculation, and increased myocardial oxygen demand all of which increase the chances of recurrent cardiac arrest and decreased neurologic recovery.  The only two interventions in cardiac arrest that have shown improve survival with good neurologic outcomes continue to be high-quality CPR and early defibrillation. The debate over the utility of epinephrine in OHCA has been ongoing for several years now and many providers have been awaiting the results of the PARAMEDIC-2 trial that was just published in the NEJM 2018. 

July 13, 2018

Background: Focused use of ultrasound in resuscitation of patients with shock and cardiac arrest has become increasingly embraced in both the emergency department (ED) as well as in the prehospital setting. Application of ultrasound, particularly of echocardiography, has the potential to identify treatable causes of shock and arrest, identify shockable rhythms and identify the presence of mechanical activity. All of these can affect management decisions and, potentially effect outcomes. Recent studies have led to concerns that integration of point of care ultrasound (POCUS) in cardiac arrest increases pauses in compressions. Thus, it is important to establish what POCUS adds to shock and arrest management.

July 9, 2018

Background: Critically ill patients come to the ED all the time and it is almost reflexive to liberally administer oxygen in these acutely ill patients.  Many providers may consider supplemental oxygen a harmless and potentially beneficial therapy in these patients, irrespective of the presence or absence of hypoxemia (i.e. hyperoxia). There have been several trials (Stroke Oxygen Study, Oxygen in AMI, & Oxygen in the ICU) that have shown harm with hyperoxia in the critically ill. This paper is a systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the evidence base for liberal versus conservative oxygen therapy in this patient population.

June 27, 2018

Background: Pulseless electrical activity (PEA) is an organized electrical activity without a palpable pulse.  1/3 of cardiac arrest cases will be pulseless electrical activity and the overall prognosis of these patients is worse than patients who have shockable rhythms (ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia).  It can be a challenge to decide when to terminate or continue resuscitation efforts in PEA arrest.  Palpating pulses is difficult in the setting of a code situation, neither sensitive nor specific based on current literature.  The use of POCUS could help split PEA patients into Pseudo-PEA (cardiac activity on US = profound shock) vs True-PEA (no cardiac activity on US) in determining the potential for ROSC.

June 15, 2018

Background: As with all medications in cardiac arrest (i.e. epinephrine, amiodarone) the benefits of sodium bicarbonate administration have been discussed and debated for decades. While it is clear that sodium bicarbonate can play a role in resuscitation of arrest due to hyperkalemia, it’s role in patients with acidemia resulting from or causing arrest is unclear. In theory, raising the pH may be beneficial but the use of bicarbonate increases serum CO2 which may be deleterious as it creates a respiratory acidosis. Despite the absence of good evidence, sodium bicarbonate continues to be used in non-hyperkalemic cardiac arrest management.