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Ann Intensive Care. 2011 Nov 3;1(1):45. doi: 10.1186/2110-5820-1-45.

Postcardiac arrest syndrome: from immediate resuscitation to long-term outcome.

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Medical Intensive Care Unit, Cochin Hospital, Groupe Hospitalier Universtitaire Cochin Broca Hôtel-Dieu, Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris, 27 rue du Faubourg Saint-Jacques, 75014 Paris, France.


The prognosis for postcardiac arrest patients remains very bleak, not only because of anoxic-ischemic neurological damage, but also because of the "postcardiac arrest syndrome," a phenomenon often severe enough to cause death before any neurological evaluation. This syndrome includes all clinical and biological manifestations related to the phenomenon of global ischemia-reperfusion triggered by cardiac arrest and return of spontaneous circulation. The main component of the postcardiac arrest syndrome is an early but severe cardiocirculatory dysfunction that may lead to multiple organ failure and death.Cardiovascular support relies on conventional medical and mechanical treatment of circulatory failure. Hemodynamic stabilization is a major objective to limit secondary brain insult. When the cause of cardiac arrest is related to myocardial infarction, percutaneous coronary revascularization is associated with improved prognosis; early angiographic exploration should then be discussed when there is no obvious extracardiac cause. Therapeutic hypothermia is now the cornerstone of postanoxic cerebral protection. Its widespread use is clearly recommended, with a favorable risk-benefit ratio in selected population. Neuroprotection also is based on the prevention of secondary cerebral damages, pending the results of ongoing therapeutic evaluations regarding the potential efficiency of new therapeutic drugs.

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