Podcast 850: Cardiac Arrest - Entertainment vs. Reality - The Emergency Medical Minute

Podcast 850: Cardiac Arrest – Entertainment vs. Reality

Contributor: Travis Barlock, MD

Educational Pearls:

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is defined as when the heart suddenly stops beating. Immediate treatment for SCA includes Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation. This event is commonly depicted in medical dramas as an intense moment but often with the patient surviving and making a full recovery (67-75%). This depiction has likely led the general population astray when it comes to the true survivability of SCA. When surveyed, the general population tends to believe that in excess of 50% of patients requiring CPR survive and return to daily life with no long-term consequences.

What percent of patients actually survive cardiac arrest?

SCA due to Ventricular Fibrillation (VF): 25-40%

SCA due to Pulseless Electrical Activity (PEA): 11%

SCA due to noncardiac causes (trauma ect.): 11%

SCA when the initially observed rhythm is Asystole: Less than 5%, by some measures as low as 2%.


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Summarized by Jeffrey Olson, MS1 | Edited by Meg Joyce & Jorge Chalit, OMS1



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