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Am J Emerg Med. 1992 Jan;10(1):4-7.

Prehospital bicarbonate use in cardiac arrest: a 3-year experience.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.


The American Heart Association no longer recommends the routine use of sodium bicarbonate in cardiac arrests. Reasons cited include the lack of documented effect on clinical outcome and potential adverse effects of metabolic alkalosis and hypernatremia. We reviewed 36 months of experience with 619 nontrauma adult, prehospital cardiac arrest patients to identify 273 successful resuscitations who had emergency department blood gases and electrolytes performed. Determination of complications associated with prehospital intravenous sodium bicarbonate and its impact on survival in resuscitated patients was undertaken. Fifty-eight patients did not receive sodium bicarbonate (NO HCO3 group) and had short cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) times (7.4 +/- 5.5 minutes). Two hundred fifteen patients did receive sodium bicarbonate (HCO3 group) and had significantly longer CPR times (23.3 +/- 13.5 minutes, P less than or equal to .001). Both groups demonstrated routine early chest compression and hyperventilation as evidenced by no significant difference in paramedic response time or rate of intubations. Initial emergency department blood gas results of both groups were not significantly different. No patients in the NO HCO3 group had hypernatremia (sodium [Na]+ greater than 150), whereas four patients (2%) in the HCO3 group were hypernatremic. Eight patients (14%) in the NO HCO3 group and 37 patients (17%) in the HCO3 group were alkalotic with pH values greater than 7.49 (P = NS). Six patients (10%) of the NO HCO3 group and 24 patients (11%) of the HCO3 group had a metabolic component to the alkalosis as defined by a positive base excess value (P = NS).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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