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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Sep 12;(9):CD004128. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004128.pub3.

Hypothermia for neuroprotection in adults after cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.



Good neurologic outcome after cardiac arrest is hard to achieve. Interventions during the resuscitation phase and treatment within the first hours after the event are critical. Experimental evidence suggests that therapeutic hypothermia is beneficial, and a number of clinical studies on this subject have been published. This review was originally published in 2009.


We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the effectiveness of therapeutic hypothermia in patients after cardiac arrest. Neurologic outcome, survival and adverse events were our main outcomes. We aimed to perform individual patient data analysis, if data were available, and to form subgroups according to the cardiac arrest situation.


We searched the following databases: the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2001, Issue 7); MEDLINE (1971 to July 2011); EMBASE (1987 to July 2011); CINAHL (1988 to July 2011); PASCAL (2000 to July 2011); and BIOSIS (1989 to July 2011). The original search was performed in January 2007.


We included all randomized controlled trials assessing the effectiveness of therapeutic hypothermia in patients after cardiac arrest, without language restrictions. Studies were restricted to adult populations cooled with any cooling method, applied within six hours of cardiac arrest.


Validity measures, the intervention, outcomes and additional baseline variables were entered into a database. Meta-analysis was only done for a subset of comparable studies with negligible heterogeneity. For these studies, individual patient data were available.


We included four trials and one abstract reporting on 481 patients in the systematic review. The updated search resulted in no new studies to include. Quality of the included studies was good in three out of five studies. For the three comparable studies on conventional cooling methods all authors provided individual patient data. With conventional cooling methods, patients in the hypothermia group were more likely to reach a best cerebral performance categories (CPC) score of one or two (five point scale: 1 = good cerebral performance, to 5 = brain death) during the hospital stay (individual patient data; RR 1.55; 95% CI 1.22 to 1.96) and were more likely to survive to hospital discharge (individual patient data; RR 1.35; 95% CI 1.10 to 1.65) compared to standard post-resuscitation care. Across all studies, there was no significant difference in reported adverse events between hypothermia and control.


Conventional cooling methods to induce mild therapeutic hypothermia seem to improve survival and neurologic outcome after cardiac arrest. Our review supports the current best medical practice as recommended by the International Resuscitation Guidelines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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