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Prehosp Emerg Care. 2001 Jul-Sep;5(3):237-46.

Cardiac arrest management.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester 01655, USA.


Approximately 1,000 people in the United States suffer cardiac arrest each day, most often as a complication of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) with accompanying ventricular fibrillation or unstable ventricular tachycardia. Increasing the number of patients who survive cardiac arrest and minimizing the clinical sequelae associated with cardiac arrest in those who do survive are the objectives of emergency medical personnel. In 1990, the American Heart Association (AHA) suggested the chain of survival concept, with four links--early access, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), defibrillation, and advanced care--as the way to approach cardiac arrest. The recently published International Resuscitation Guidelines 2000 of the AHA have addressed advances in our understanding of the chain of survival. While the chain of survival concept has withstood a decade of scrutiny, there are only a few scientifically rigorous research studies that support changes in prehospital patient care. Additional research efforts carried out in the prehospital setting are needed to support the concepts included in the chain of survival for cardiac arrest patients. Participants at the second Turtle Creek Conference, a meeting of experts in the field of emergency medicine held in Dallas, Texas, on March 29-31, 2000, discussed these and other issues associated with prehospital emergency care in the cardiac arrest patient. This paper addresses a number of the issues associated with each of the links of the chain of survival, the evidence that exists, and what should be done to achieve the clinical evidence needed for true clinical significance. Also included in this paper are the consensus statements developed from small discussion groups held after the main presentation. These comments provide another perspective to the problems and to possible approaches to deal with them.

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