Outcomes Following Single and Recurrent In-Hospital Cardiac Arrests in Children With Heart Disease: A Report From American Heart Association’s Get With the Guidelines Registry–Resuscitation

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Little is known regarding patient characteristics and outcomes associated with cardiac arrest in hospitalized children with underlying heart disease. We described clinical characteristics and in-hospital outcomes in cardiac patients with both single and recurrent cardiac arrests.


Retrospective analysis evaluating characteristics and outcomes in single versus recurrent arrest groups in unadjusted and adjusted analyses.


American Heart Association’s Get with the Guidelines–Resuscitation registry (2000–2010).


Children younger than 18 years, identified with medical or surgical cardiac disease and one or more in-hospital cardiac arrest.



Measurement and Main Results:

One thousand eight hundred and eighty-nine patients with 2,387 cardiac arrests from 157 centers met inclusion criteria: 1,546 (82%) with a single arrest and 343 (18%) with a recurrent arrest. More than two thirds of recurrent cardiac arrests occurred in ICUs, and those with recurrent arrest had a higher prevalence of baseline comorbidities (e.g., more likely to be mechanically ventilated and receiving vasoactive infusions). Overall survival to hospital discharge was 51%, and was lower in the recurrent versus single arrest group (41% vs 53%; p < 0.001). In analysis adjusted for baseline comorbidities, there was no longer a statistically significant association between recurrent arrest and survival (odds ratio, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.33–1.63; p = 0.45). In stratified analysis, the relationship between recurrent arrest and lower survival was more prominent in the surgical-cardiac (odds ratio, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.14–1.11; p = 0.09) versus medical-cardiac (odds ratio, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.28–3.30; p = 0.95) group.


In this large multicenter study, half of pediatric cardiac patients who suffered a cardiac arrest survived to hospital discharge. Lower survival in the group with recurrent arrest may be explained in part by the higher prevalence of baseline comorbidities in these patients, and surgical cardiac patients appeared to be at greatest risk. Further study is necessary to develop strategies to reduce subsequent mortality in these high-risk patients.

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