Surviving cardiac arrest

Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of natural death in the United States​, but now, many more people may survive thanks to a new protocol.  

It's being tested by the Columbus Division of Fire and the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.    

First responders initiate it when they’re unable to shock a patient’s heart back into rhythm. That alert sets off a carefully planned  chain of events that keeps a patient alive until their heart function can be restored.

While medics connect a patient to an automated CPR machine in the ambulance, a team assembles at the hospital to prepare the cath lab. Upon arrival, the patient bypasses the emergency room.

“​Getting people directly to the cath lab is critically important because the more time we wait the more damage is done to the heart, the more damage is done to all of your organs, including your brain," explained Dr. Ernest Mazzaferri Jr., Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

They’re immediately connected to an ECMO Machine that does the job of their heart and lungs so the heart and lung can rest while doctors work on the heart to try to get it restarted and beating well.

This seamless process from the field to the cath lab gives doctors a chance to fix what caused the cardiac arrest – a chance they didn’t have before.

The medical center says, so far, early results have increased survival rates from zero to about 40 percent.

Dr. K. Dean Boudoulas Ohio State Wexner Medical said, "Patients have a chance to walk out of a hospital with neurological recovery, having a meaningful life, when essentially, they would have been pronounced dead in the field.”

With positive results from the pilot program, experts hope the protocol will become standard


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