July 23, 2015

Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) provides a well structured framework for those who resuscitate infrequently. There is room to move beyond the algorithm to potentially provide better care for our patients for those who resuscitate frequently. I will describe some tweaks to the way CPR, defibrillation, and medications are delivered in the arrests I manage.

July 16, 2015

Background: Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) occurs in the United States at a rate of nearly 300,000 individuals per year. Even more concerning is the high mortality rate which is associated with this. The majority of OHCA is due to cardiac etiology with the most common initial rhythm being ventricular fibrillation (VF). What we all know is that high-quality, limited interruption cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and early defibrillation are the hallmarks of successful neurologic outcomes in OHCA. For many who have heard me speak about ACLS, you have heard me say that these guidelines are created for the providers who do not perform resuscitation as part of their daily routine. For those of us in the trenches of the emergency department, we have to think beyond ACLS at times. Although VF typically responds very well to the standard energies of defibrillation, maybe in patients with higher body mass index or morbid obesity we need higher energies to achieve successful defibrillation.

November 1, 2013

Pauses in chest compressions are known to be detrimental to survival in cardiac arrest, so much so that the 2010 American Heart Association (AHA) emphasize high-quality compressions while minimizing interruptions. There have been some studies that now advocate for continuous chest compressions during a defibrillation shock. There have been substantial changes to external defibrillation technology  including:
  • Biphasic shocks with real-time impedance monitoring to reduce peak voltages
  • Paddles being replaced by adhesive pre-gelled electrodes
  • Enhancement in ECG filtering permitting rhythm monitoring during chest compressions.
So the mantra of "hard and fast" may be true when it comes to CPR, but the real question now becomes, should we be continuing CPR during defibrillation?