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Crit Care. 2007;11(2):R39.

Effects of epinephrine and vasopressin on end-tidal carbon dioxide tension and mean arterial blood pressure in out-of-hospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation: an observational study.

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Centre for Emergency Medicine Maribor, Ljubljanska 5, 2000 Maribor, Slovenia.



Clinical data considering vasopressin as an equivalent option to epinephrine in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) are limited. The aim of this prehospital study was to assess whether the use of vasopressin during CPR contributes to higher end-tidal carbon dioxide and mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) levels and thus improves the survival rate and neurological outcome.


Two treatment groups of resuscitated patients in cardiac arrest were compared: in the epinephrine group, patients received 1 mg of epinephrine intravenously every three minutes only; in the vasopressin/epinephrine group, patients received 40 units of arginine vasopressin intravenously only or followed by 1 mg of epinephrine every three minutes during CPR. Values of end-tidal carbon dioxide and MAP were recorded, and data were collected according to the Utstein style.


Five hundred and ninety-eight patients were included with no significant demographic or clinical differences between compared groups. Final end-tidal carbon dioxide values and average values of MAP in patients with restoration of pulse were significantly higher in the vasopressin/epinephrine group (p < 0.01). Initial (odds ratio [OR]: 18.65), average (OR: 2.86), and final (OR: 2.26) end-tidal carbon dioxide values as well as MAP at admission to the hospital (OR: 1.79) were associated with survival at 24 hours. Initial (OR: 1.61), average (OR: 1.47), and final (OR: 2.67) end-tidal carbon dioxide values as well as MAP (OR: 1.39) were associated with improved hospital discharge. In the vasopressin group, significantly more pulse restorations and a better rate of survival at 24 hours were observed (p < 0.05). Subgroup analysis of patients with initial asystole revealed a higher hospital discharge rate when vasopressin was used (p = 0.04). Neurological outcome in discharged patients was better in the vasopressin group (p = 0.04).


End-tidal carbon dioxide and MAP are strong prognostic factors for the outcome of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Resuscitated patients treated with vasopressin alone or followed by epinephrine have higher average and final end-tidal carbon dioxide values as well as a higher MAP on admission to the hospital than patients treated with epinephrine only. This combination vasopressor therapy improves restoration of spontaneous circulation, short-term survival, and neurological outcome. In the subgroup of patients with initial asystole, it improves the hospital discharge rate.

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