IOM ex­perts to eval­u­ate how to keep hearts beat­ing

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Bob Her­man

The odds of sur­viv­ing a sud­den car­diac ar­rest aren’t good. More than 9 in 10 peo­ple who ex­pe­ri­ence car­diac ar­rest out­side the walls of a hos­pi­tal die, ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion.

Noted car­di­ol­o­gists and other physi­cians will meet in Wash­ing­ton Mon­day to dis­cuss how car­diac ar­rest is treated in the U.S. and what can be done to im­prove sur­vival rates. The Treat­ment of Car­diac Ar­rest project, or­ga­nized by the In­sti­tute of Medicine and spon­sored by sev­eral na­tional heart groups, has held two pre­vi­ous meet­ings on the topic this year. The project is chaired by Dr. Robert Gra­ham, a health pol­icy re­search pro­fes­sor at Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity. “This is a dis­ease that has an enor­mous public-health im­pact,” said Dr. Lance Becker, a pro­fes­sor of emer­gency medicine at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia who serves on the IOM project’s 20-per­son com­mit­tee. “In gen­eral, the sur­vival (rate) is re­ally not at all what we’re happy with.”

Car­diac ar­rest is dif­fer­ent from a heart at­tack. In car­diac ar­rest, the heart stops beat­ing, usu­ally be­cause of an ab­nor­mal­ity in the heart’s elec­tri­cal sys­tem. Car­diopul­monary re­sus­ci­ta­tion and au­to­mated ex­ter­nal de­fib­ril­la­tors are most com­monly used to treat car­diac ar­rest. In 2013, there were 359,000 U.S. cases of car­diac ar­rest out­side of hos­pi­tals and 209,000 in­side of hos­pi­tals, ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion.

Mon­day’s meet­ing will fea­ture four pan­els ad­dress­ing cur­rent and future treat­ments for car­diac ar­rest, re­search tri­als and clin­i­cal im­prove­ments. The IOM said it ex­pects to re­lease a fi­nal re­port next June.


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