Heart + Lung

Research to Improve Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Survival Rates

The largest randomized cardiac arrest trial in the world has shown that extending the period of initial cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) by paramedics and firefighters from one to three minutes provides no benefit.

The study by the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium, with Dr. Ian Stiell of the University of Ottawa as first author, involved nearly 10,000 cardiac arrest patients from 10 North American regions. The British Columbia site, led by Dr. Jim Christenson, Head of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of British Columbia, contributed over 1,200 patients and was one of three Canadian sites. Douglas Andrusiek, PhD candidate in the School of Population and Public Health, was a co-author on the study.

“Previously, it was unclear how much CPR to provide before defibrillation,” said Dr. Christenson. “This study shows that it is not necessary to delay the defibrillator by doing more CPR. To defibrillate as soon as possible while getting good CPR is an effective strategy.”

This study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was conducted through the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium (ROC), a large Canada-U.S. research collaboration aimed at improving survival for patients who suffer cardiac arrest and severe trauma in the community.

Dr. Christenson is also a member of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) working group who is pushing for improved rates of “bystander” CPR. More than 20,000 people suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Canada each year, with 85 per cent of cases occurring in residential dwellings. Currently, less than 10 per cent of these people survive. Their recent position statement was published in the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine (CJEM) and can be found here.