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Resuscitation. 2013 Dec;84(12):1728-33. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2013.06.008. Epub 2013 Jun 21.

Continuous neuromuscular blockade is associated with decreased mortality in post-cardiac arrest patients.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, United States.



Neuromuscular blockade may improve outcomes in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome. In post-cardiac arrest patients receiving therapeutic hypothermia, neuromuscular blockade is often used to prevent shivering. Our objective was to determine whether neuromuscular blockade is associated with improved outcomes after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.


A post hoc analysis of a prospective observational study of comatose adult (>18 years) out-of-hospital cardiac arrest at 4 tertiary cardiac arrest centers. The primary exposure of interest was neuromuscular blockade for 24h following return of spontaneous circulation and primary outcomes were in-hospital survival and functional status at hospital discharge. Secondary outcomes were evolution of oxygenation (PaO2:FiO2), and change in lactate. We tested the primary outcomes of in-hospital survival and neurologically intact survival with multivariable logistic regression. Secondary outcomes were tested with multivariable linear mixed-models.


A total of 111 patients were analyzed. In patients with 24h of sustained neuromuscular blockade, the crude survival rate was 14/18 (78%) compared to 38/93 (41%) in patients without sustained neuromuscular blockade (p=0.004). After multivariable adjustment, neuromuscular blockade was associated with survival (adjusted OR: 7.23, 95% CI: 1.56-33.38). There was a trend toward improved functional outcome with neuromuscular blockade (50% versus 28%; p=0.07). Sustained neuromuscular blockade was associated with improved lactate clearance (adjusted p=0.01).


We found that early neuromuscular blockade for a 24-h period is associated with an increased probability of survival. Secondarily, we found that early, sustained neuromuscular blockade is associated with improved lactate clearance.


Cardiac arrest; Lactic acidosis; Neuromuscular blockade; OHCA; Shock

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