Adrenaline Therapy for Cardiac Arrest May Cause Worse Outcomes

Adrenaline Therapy for Cardiac Arrest May Cause Worse OutcomesThe long-accepted process of treating cardiac arrest patients with epinephrine, or adrenaline, has been linked to possibly doing more harm than good in the long term, a large new study suggests.

According to HealthDay, Japanese researchers noted that cardiac arrest victims who were dosed with epinephrine had better chances of survival after one month compared to those who did not receive the treatment. However, after adjusting the figures for various factors, the same studies showed patients who had been given epinephrine were actually less likely to survive a month later.

What's more, among those given the injected hormone, only 25 percent were in strong neurological shape one month later. The findings were published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Clifton Callaway, an executive vice chair of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, wrote an accompanying editorial alongside the study's results, which stated that the findings should raise a red flag about the regular use of the potentially dangerous drug.

"We need to figure out why those patients aren't doing well," Callaway said. "It improves that likelihood that we'll get the heartbeat back, but it looks like we're paying a price."

According to the National Library of Medicine, cardiac arrest occurs when the heart's regular rhythm is interrupted. While it is not the same as a heart attack, the condition can lead to such a medical emergency.

There are several possible causes of cardiac arrest, including coronary heart disease, electrocution, drowning or choking. Without medical attention, a person experiencing cardiac arrest can die in the first few minutes. However, the risk of survival increases if early CPR and defibrillation is given.

In the study, the researchers analyzed 420,000 cardiac arrest cases that occurred in Japan between 2005 and 2008. All of the patients were treated by emergency personnel and received further treatment in hospitals.

"This finding implies that epinephrine administration might save the heart but not the brain," wrote lead study author Dr. Akihito Hagihara, a professor in the department of health services, management and policy at Kyushu University Graduate School of Medicine.

Earlier research has linked epinephrine to irregular heartbeats, disruptions in the way the heart functions and interrupted circulation to the brain, Hagihara also stated in his editorial.