November 9, 2020

Background/Introduction: The use of Sodium Bicarbonate (SB) in cardiac arrest has had a complicated history with strong and varied opinions on its effectiveness. SB was recommended in earlier ACLS guidelines, mostly stemming from the notion that severe metabolic acidosis due to hypoxia and hypoperfusion during cardiac arrest led to impaired myocardial contractility, decreased effectiveness of vasopressors, and increased risk of dysrhythmias. Subsequent data called into question the benefits of SB in cardiac arrest and highlighted potential harms such as hypernatremia, hyperosmolarity, metabolic alkalosis, as well as reduction in ionized calcium, vascular resistance, and extracellular fluid volume expansion. This led to the 2010 ACLS guidelines stating that routine use of SB is not recommended (Class IIIB) and that it may be considered in special circumstances (preexisting metabolic acidosis, Hyperkalemia, or TCA overdose). Despite this, the use of SB during cardiac arrest is still common in emergency departments with varying opinions on its effectiveness. In fact, recently published data from the National Emergency Medicine Services Information System (NEMSIS) noted that besides epinephrine and normal saline, sodium bicarbonate was the third most commonly used medication in out of hospital cardiac arrest (Chan 2020). This study aimed to consolidate the state of evidence behind the use of SB in cardiac arrest.

May 12, 2014

In a prior post, we discussed the use of an initial insulin bolus in the management of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).  Today we will address another facet of DKA management, for which there is less than optimal evidence and that is: Any benefit to sodium bicarbonate in DKA?  Consensus guidelines for the management of DKA recommended administering sodium bicarbonate to DKA patients who present with an initial blood gas pH of < 7.0. That recommendation was updated and changed in 2009 to limit sodium bicarbonate use to DKA patients with blood gas pH of < 6.9.  More recently, Chua et al. published a systematic review of 44 articles discussing bicarbonate administration and Duhon et al. published the largest retrospective review of DKA patient with presenting pH of < 7.0.
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