Post Cardiac Arrest Care
Integrated post-cardiac arrest care is now the 5th link in the AHA adult chain of survival. Topics of focus for post-cardiac arrest care include therapeutic hypothermia, hemodynamic and ventilation optimization, immediate coronary reperfusion with PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention), glycemic control, neurologic care and other technical interventions. To be successful, post-cardiac arrest care requires an integrated multidisciplinary approach.
For the purposes of this site, the review of post-cardiac arrest care interventions will focus primarily on immediate post arrest interventions and aspects that you will most likely be tested on.
For a complete review of the subject refer to your AHA provider manual. (pages: 28-29, 72-77, and 164)
Therapeutic hypothermia is the only intervention that has been shown to improve neurological outcomes after cardiac arrest. Induced hypothermia should occur soon after ROSC (return of spontaneous circulation). The decision point for the use of therapeutic hypothermia is whether or not the patient can follow commands.
One of the most common methods used for inducing therapeutic hypothermia is rapid infusion of ice-cold (4° C), isotonic, non-glucose-containing fluid to a volume of 30 ml/kg. The optimum temperature for therapeutic hypothermia is 32-34 ° C (89.6 to 93.2 ° F). This temperature should be maintained for 12 to 24 hours.
During induced therapeutic hypothermia, the patients core temperature should be monitored with any one of the following: esophageal thermometer, a bladder catheter in the nonanuric patients, or a pulmonary artery catheter if one is already in place.
Axillary and oral temperatures are inadequate for monitoring core temperatures.
During the post-cardiac arrest phase inspired oxygen should be titrated to maintain an arterial oxygen saturation of ≥ 94%. This reduces the risk of oxygen toxicity. Excessive ventilation should also be avoided because of the potential for reduced cerebral blood flow related to a decrease in PaCO2 levels. Also, excessive ventilation should be avoided because of the risk of high intrathoracic pressures which can lead to adverse hemodynamic effects during the post arrest phase. Quantitative waveform capnography can be used to regulate and titrate ventilation rates during the post-arrest phase. Visit the link for more details about waveform capnography and the 2010 guidelines.
Hypotension, a systolic blood pressure < 90 mmHg should be treated and the administration of fluids and vasoactive medications can be used to optimize the patients hemodynamic status. While the optimal blood pressure during the post-cardiac arrest phase is not known, the primary objective is adequate systemic perfusion, and a mean arterial pressure of ≥ 65 mmHg should accomplish this.
The goal of post-cardiac arrest care should be to return the patient to a level of functioning equivalent to the their prearrest condition.
Moderate glycemic control measures should be implemented to maintain glucose levels from 144-180 mg/dL, and since there is an increased risk for hypoglycemia in the post-arrest phase these more moderate levels should be maintained rather than normal levels of 80-110 mg/dL
Every effort should be made to provide coronary reperfusion (PCI), and interventions should be directed with this goal in mind. PCI has been shown to be safe and effective in both the alert and comatose patient, and hypothermia does not contraindicate PCI.