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Minerva Anestesiol. 2011 Nov;77(11):1063-71. Epub 2011 May 11.

The association of lactate and vasopressor need for mortality prediction in survivors of cardiac arrest.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA.



Currently there are few tools available for clinicians to predict outcomes in cardiac arrest survivors. Our objective was to determine if the combination of simple clinical parameters (initial blood lactate and vasopressor use) can predict outcome in post-cardiac arrest patients.


The design was a retrospective medical record review. The study was carried on in two urban, tertiary-care, university teaching hospitals. As for patients, inclusion criteria were: 1) age ≥18 years; 2) non-traumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest with return of spontaneous circulation; 3) lactic acid measured within one hour of return of circulation. No interventions was performed.


Patients were divided into groups based on two variables: 1) vasopressor status (receipt of vasopressors vs. no vasopressors); and 2) initial blood lactate (categories defined as lactate <5 mmol/L, lactate 5 to 10 mmol/L, lactate ≥10 mmol/L); 128 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients met study inclusion criteria. Overall mortality was 71% (95%CI 63-79%). Patients who received vasopressors had significantly higher mortality rates compared to patients who did not receive vasopressors (80% vs. 52%; P=0.002). A stepwise increase in mortality is associated with increasing lactate levels (39% lactate <5 mmol/L, 67% lactate 5 mmol/L to10 mmol/L, and 92% lactate ≥10 mmol/L; P<0.001). The AUC for our model was 0.82.


The combination of two clinical parameters, vasopressor need and lactic acid levels, is an accurate severity of illness classification system and can predict mortality in patients following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Prospective validation of these variables in post-cardiac arrest is needed.

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