2021 BQ Journal Vol 42 - 7

November 24, 2020

Life support machine helps cardiac arrest
patients survive
At a Glance
*
*

Using a life support machine called ECMO shortly after cardiac arrest outside of a hospital improved
patients' chances of survival.
The findings may lead to new emergency care treatment interventions and improved outcomes for this
common health condition.

More than 350,000 people die of cardiac arrest each
year in the United States. The condition occurs when
the heart suddenly stops beating. This stops blood flow
to the body, including the heart and brain. Cardiac
arrest usually causes death if it's not treated
immediately, and the standard treatments are not very
effective.
Some cardiac arrest patients who receive the standard
care treatment do not respond. This treatment usually
includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR),
defibrillation (quickly shocking the heart), intubation
(inserting a tube down into the airways to assist with
breathing), and IV medications. One reason a patient
may not respond is if the arteries to their heart have
severe blockages, preventing blood flow getting
around the body.

The study compared approaches to treating people
with cardiac arrest. kaisersosa67 / iStock / Getty Images
Plus

Life support machines called extracorporeal
membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machines support blood circulation by bypassing a blockage. ECMO machines
pull blood out of a patient's body, reoxygenate it, and then return the blood back to the body.
To investigate whether using ECMO can benefit cardiac arrest patients, researchers enrolled 30 people who
had a cardiac arrest into a clinical trial. The research team, led by Dr. Demetris Yannopoulos at the University
of Minnesota, compared the standard treatment with using ECMO as soon as possible. The study was funded by
NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Results were published on November 13, 2020, in
the Lancet.
Most of the study participants were men who were, on average, 61 years old. Of 14 patients who received
ECMO as part of their assigned care for cardiac arrest, six survived to hospital discharge. In contrast, only one
of 15 patients who received the standard treatment survived to hospital release.
At three and six months after hospital discharge, all six people who received ECMO were alive and well. The
patient who received standard treatment did not survive following release from the hospital. Because of the
notable improvement in survival of patients receiving ECMO, the study was halted before enrolling the
expected 165 patients.

Diagnostics I Pharmaceuticals I DxRx Solutions I Continuing Education I News
7

A Henry Schein Publication



2021 BQ Journal Vol 42

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