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Adrenaline does not Boost Patient’s Survival Rates after Cardiac Arrest

Update Date: Apr 17, 2014 02:54 PM EDT

Adrenaline is often given to hospital patients who suffer from a cardiac arrest. Even though this treatment option has been traditionally used on inpatients, a new study found that administering adrenaline to patients after they suffered from a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital is not very effective. The researchers found that adrenaline did not boost long-term survival rates for these outpatients.

"The vast number of patients who have a cardiac arrest get adrenaline, which has been the drug recommended in treating cardiac arrest for decades," said Dr. Steve Lin, an emergency physician and trauma team leader at St. Michael's Hospital. "Yet, despite advances in medical treatment, long-term survival rates of patients who suffer a cardiac outside a hospital and receive adrenaline remains low."

For this study, Dr. Lin and his colleagues reviewed clinical trials and data on patients who suffered from a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital. Around 90 percent of people who have a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital will die before they reach the hospital or very soon after getting to hospital. Based from the data, the researchers found that giving outpatients adrenaline did not help increase patient's survival rates. Adrenaline also did not have any benefits on patients' neurological outcomes.

The researchers theorized that adrenaline was not effective for outpatients because they often suffer from cardiac arrests that are caused by different factors. Cardiac arrests that occur outside of a hospital are often caused by heart attacks or heart diseases. Within the hospital setting, cardiac arrests tend to result from infections or respiratory diseases. Due to the differences in causes, adrenaline affects patients differently. The researchers did find that administering a larger dose of adrenaline outside of the hospital gave patients a better chance of regaining their pulse. However, the larger dose still did not boost long-term survival rates.

"The use of adrenaline has been the standard of care for so long that it's been hard to change the culture," said Dr. Lin reported by Medical Xpress. "We have reached a point in time where physicians and paramedics have to change the way we think."

The study was published in Resuscitation.

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