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Cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the post-cardiac arrest syndrome 

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the post-cardiac arrest syndrome
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the post-cardiac arrest syndrome

Jerry P Nolan


February 22, 2018: This chapter has been re-evaluated and remains up-to-date. No changes have been necessary.


Updates to the references and minor updates to the text

Figure 6.1 updated, showing the ERC advanced life support algorithm

Updated on 27 July 2017. The previous version of this content can be found here.
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date: 09 July 2020

Cardiac arrest is the most extreme of medical emergencies. If the victim is to have any chance of high-quality neurological recovery, cardiac arrest must be diagnosed quickly, followed by summoning for help as basic life support (chest compressions and ventilations) is started. In most cases, the initial rhythm will be shockable, but this will have often deteriorated to a non-shockable rhythm by the time a monitor and/or defibrillator is applied. While basic life support will sustain some oxygen delivery to the heart and brain and will help to slow the rate of deterioration in these vital organs, it is important to achieve restoration of a spontaneous circulation as soon as possible (by defibrillation if the rhythm is shockable). Once return of spontaneous circulation is achieved, the quality of post-cardiac arrest management will influence the patient’s final neurological outcome. These interventions aim to restore myocardial function and minimize neurological injury.

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