Navigate Up

UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Senior Manager
Telephone: 412-578-9193 or 412-624-3212

Director
Telephone: 412-417-2582
 

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Pitt Researchers Find New Way to Classify Post-Cardiac Arrest Patients, Improving Ability to Predict Outcomes

PITTSBURGH, July 11, 2011 – A new method for scoring the severity of illness for patients after cardiac arrest may help to predict their outcomes, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Most importantly, their findings, published in the early online version of Resuscitation, also show that none of the severity categories rules out the potential for a patient’s recovery.

“Traditionally, we have used historical or event-related information, such as initial cardiac rhythm or whether someone witnessed the collapse, to categorize these patients upon arrival at the hospital,” said Jon C. Rittenberger, M.D., lead author and assistant professor of emergency medicine. “Unfortunately, more than 10 percent of the time, such information is unavailable, which limits our ability to tailor therapies, counsel families about prognosis or select patients for clinical trials.”   

Cardiac arrest is the most common cause of death in North America, resulting in approximately 350,000 deaths each year.

The researchers looked at retrospective data for more than 450 post-cardiac arrest patients treated at UPMC Presbyterian between January 2005 and December 2009. Both in-hospital and out-of-hospital cardiac arrests were included. In 2007, the hospital implemented a multi-disciplinary post-cardiac arrest care plan, including therapeutic hypothermia, or cooling of patients to minimize brain damage.

Four distinct categories of illness severity were identified based on a combination of neurological and cardiopulmonary dysfunction during the first few hours after restoration of a patient’s spontaneous circulation. The researchers looked at rates of survival, neurologic outcomes and development of multiple organ failure for patients in each category, and found wide variations among the groups.

“Now, objective data available to the clinician at the bedside during initial evaluation may provide a better way of predicting outcomes and guiding the decisions of families and clinicians. We found that the category of illness severity had a stronger association with survival and good outcomes than did such historically used factors as initial rhythm of arrest or where it happened,” said Dr. Rittenberger.  “Our results indicate that illness severity should be carefully measured and accounted for in future studies of therapies for these patients.”

Co-authors of the study include Samuel A. Tisherman, M.D., Margo B. Holm, Ph.D., Francis X. Guyette, M.D., M.P.H., and Clifton W. Callaway, M.D., Ph.D., all of the University of Pittsburgh.

The research was supported by a grant from the National Center for Research Resources. Dr. Rittenberger is also supported by an unrestricted grant from the National Association of EMS Physicians/Zoll EMS Resuscitation Research Fellowship.

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com