Therapeutic hypothermia after cardiac arrest

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Patients who are successfully resuscitated following cardiac arrest often have a significant medical condition termed postresuscitation disease. This includes myocardial stunning, metabolic abnormalities and neurologic injury from global ischemia. There are no clinical signs or diagnostic tests for 24-72 h to distinguish patients who will and will not recover neurologic function. RECENT FINDINGS: Therapeutic hypothermia had been advocated for decades as a treatment to improve neurologic outcome after cardiac arrest. The early studies focused on moderate hypothermia, which was associated with complications and was not clearly beneficial. Over the past decade, studies have focused on mild hypothermia with target temperatures of 32-34°C. Two recent multicentered, randomized, controlled trials have demonstrated improved neurologic outcome with mild therapeutic hypothermia applied to comatose survivors after cardiac arrest compared with a normothermic control group. SUMMARY: As a result of these studies the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation recommends that 'Unconscious adult patients with spontaneous circulation after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest should be cooled to 32°C to 34°C for 12 to 24 hours when the initial rhythm was ventricular fibrillation'. Mild therapeutic hypothermia should also be considered for patients with in-hospital arrest and asystole and pulseless electrical activity who are comatose after return of spontaneous circulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-217
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent opinion in critical care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Cardiac arrest
  • Heart arrest
  • Hypothermia
  • Postresuscitation
  • Ventricular fibrillation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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