Haemodynamics of cardiac arrest and resuscitation

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Purpose of reviewThis review will summarize the available data regarding the haemodynamic changes occurring following cardiac arrest in humans and animal models.Recent findingsFollowing cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation without cardiopulmonary resuscitation, blood flow exponentially falls but continues for approximately 5 min until the pressure gradient between the aorta and the right heart is completely dissipated. During cardiopulmonary resuscitation forward flow occurs into the aorta during the compression phase. Coronary blood flow is retrograde during the compression phase and antegrade during the decompression phase. Carotid blood flow takes over a minute to reach plateau levels following the initiation of chest compressions, and even brief interruptions of compressions result in a dramatic reduction in carotid blood flow which takes a minute or so to recover to plateau levels when compressions are reinstituted. Coronary perfusion pressure during the release phase of cardiopulmonary resuscitation has been shown to be a powerful predictor of the likelihood of recovery of spontaneous circulation following restoration of electrical activity.SummaryRecent studies have provided important insights into the haemodynamics of cardiac arrest and of cardiopulmonary resuscitation which may inform more effective strategies for the management of cardiac arrest in the future.

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