Thrombolytics for cardiac arrest: case report and systematic review of controlled trials.
Ann Pharmacother. 2010 Dec;44(12):2007-13. Epub 2010 Nov 30. PMID: 21119096
Royal Columbian Hospital, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada.
OBJECTIVE: To describe a successful case involving the use of tenecteplase during cardiac arrest for presumed pulmonary embolism (PE) and to systematically review the evidence from controlled trials supporting the efficacy and safety of thrombolysis during cardiac arrest.
CASE SUMMARY: A 48-year-old male presented to the emergency department with an acute onset of shortness of breath that began approximately 2 hours prior to presentation. Prior to undergoing a computed tomography (CT) scan to rule out PE, the patient went into cardiac arrest, with an initial rhythm of pulseless electrical activity at a rate of 140 beats/min. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was initiated and, due to suspected PE, a bolus dose of tenecteplase 50 mg was administered immediately following a single 1-mg dose of epinephrine. CPR was continued and 4 additional 1-mg doses of epinephrine and three 1-mg doses of atropine were given. After 13 minutes of CPR, return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) was achieved, with a blood pressure of 144/50 mm Hg. After the patient was stabilized, a CT scan demonstrated extensive bilateral pulmonary emboli in most segmental arteries. He was admitted to the intensive care unit where he was sedated, paralyzed, and treated with induced hypothermia for 24 hours. He was discharged from the hospital 2 weeks later on warfarin, with no noted neurologic deficits.
DISCUSSION: A systematic search of MEDLINE (1950-August 2010), Embase (1980-August 2010), and Google Scholar (to August 2010) was conducted to identify prospective controlled trials that investigated the use of thrombolytic medications to treat cardiac arrest. Five trials involving 1544 undifferentiated cases of cardiac arrest were found. Overall, some trials reported an improved rate of ROSC following administration of thrombolytics, but there was no overall mortality reduction in any trial. There was, however, an increased risk of bleeding events following administration of a thrombolytic drug.
CONCLUSIONS: Controlled trials demonstrate that there is a lack of benefit and potential harm in administering thrombolysis in an undifferentiated patient with cardiac arrest. However, the case we present provides evidence that fibrinolysis may benefit selected patients with cardiac arrest in whom PE is confirmed or in whom there is high index of suspicion of PE.