Thrombolysis and other drugs during cardiopulmonary resuscitation

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Abstract

Purpose of review

No specific drug therapy has been shown to improve long-term survival after cardiac arrest, and only few drugs have a proven benefit for short-term survival. This study reviews recent studies on drugs during cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Recent findings

Epinephrine is the first-line vasopressor during cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Arginine vasopressin may be more effective than epinephrine in patients presenting with asystole or as a second vasopressor in refractory cardiac arrest. Sodium bicarbonate should not be ‘blindly’ administered during cardiopulmonary resuscitation unless an arterial blood gas analysis can be obtained or after prolonged unsuccessful cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Amiodarone may improve short-term survival. Thrombolytic therapy during cardiopulmonary resuscitation may be beneficial if a pulmonary embolism or acute myocardial infarction is suggested to be the cause of cardiac arrest.

Summary

Epinephrine is the vasopressor of first choice for routine use during cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Arginine vasopressin may be considered in patients presenting with asystole or who are unresponsive to initial treatment with epinephrine. Amiodarone should be used in shock-refractory ventricular fibrillation. Although not recommended for routine use, thrombolytic therapy during cardiopulmonary resuscitation may be considered in patients with suspected pulmonary embolism or after unsuccessful conventional cardiopulmonary resuscitation in patients with a presumably thrombotic cause of cardiac arrest.

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