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Am J Med. 2006 Apr;119(4):335-40.

Cardiocerebral resuscitation improves survival of patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

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Mercy Health System, Janesville, Wis, USA.



The guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) have been in place for decades; but despite their international scope and periodic updates, there has been little improvement in survival rates in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest for patients who did not receive early defibrillation. The Emergency Medical Service directors in 2 rural Wisconsin counties initiated a new protocol for the pre-hospital management of adult cardiac arrest victims in an attempt to improve survival rates. The results observed after implementation of this protocol are presented and compared with those observed during a three-year period that preceded initiation of the project.


The protocol, based upon the principles of cardiocerebral resuscitation, was significantly different from the standard CPR protocol. A major objective was to minimize interruptions of chest compressions. Each defibrillation, including the first, was preceded by 200 uninterrupted chest compressions. Single shocks, rather than stacked shocks, were utilized. Post shock rhythm and pulse checks were eliminated, and chest compressions were resumed immediately after a shock was delivered. Initial airway management was limited to an oral pharyngeal device and supplemental oxygen. If the arrest was witnessed, assisted ventilations and intubation were delayed until either a return of spontaneous circulation or until three series of "compressions + analysis +/- shock" were completed.


In the 3 years preceding the change in protocol, where standard CPR was utilized, there were 92 witnessed out-of-hospital adult cardiac arrests with an initially shockable rhythm. Eighteen patients survived, and 14 of 92 (15%) were neurologically intact. After implementing the new protocol in early 2004, there were 33 witnessed out-of-hospital adult cardiac arrests with an initially shockable rhythm. Nineteen survived, and 16 of 33 (48%) were neurologically normal. Differences in both total and neurologically normal survival are significant (chi-squared = 0.001).


Instituting the new cardiocerebral resuscitation protocol for managing prehospital cardiac arrest improved survival of adult patients with witnessed cardiac arrest and an initially shockable rhythm.

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