Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest From Brain Cause: Epidemiology, Clinical Features, and Outcome in a Multicenter Cohort*

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Abstract

Objectives:

Although sudden cardiac death has been broadly studied, little is known on cerebrovascular events revealed by out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. We aimed to describe clinical features and prognosis of these patients and identify characteristics that could suggest a cerebrovascular etiology of the out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Design:

Retrospective review (1999–2012) of databases of three regional referral ICU centers for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Setting:

Patients admitted to ICU for management of successfully resuscitated out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Patients:

Patients were included when subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracranial hemorrhage, ischemic stroke, sub/epidural hematoma, or cerebral thrombophlebitis was identified as the primary cause of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Traumatic or infectious causes were excluded. Patients were compared with a group of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest of nonneurological origin.

Interventions:

All medical records of the three prospective ICU databases, registered according to the Utstein style, were reviewed.

Measurements and Main Results:

Among 3,710 patients admitted for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, 86 were included (mainly subarachnoid hemorrhage, n = 73). Prodromes were mostly neurological but falsely evoked a cardiac origin in six patients. Electrocardiogram displayed abnormalities in 64% of patients, with 23% of pseudoischemic pattern (ST-segment elevation or left bundle branch block). Mortality rate was 100%, with brain death as the leading cause. In comparison with the nonneurological out-of-hospital cardiac arrest group, female gender, onset of neurological prodromes, lack of other prodromes, initial nonshockable rhythm, and unspecific electrocardiogram repolarization abnormalities were independent predictive factors of a primary cerebrovascular etiology. When present, the combination of these elements displayed an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.86 (95% CI, 0.81–0.91).

Conclusions:

Presentation of cerebrovascular event complicated with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest may mimic coronary etiology, but several clinical elements may help to identify brain causes. Even if survival is null, the high proportion of brain deaths provides opportunity for organ donation.

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