Basic Life Support May Be Better for Cardiac Arrest Victims

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More Advanced Emergency Care May Be Worse in Cardiac Arrest
More Advanced Emergency Care May Be Worse in Cardiac Arrest

(HealthDay News) — Advanced life support given by paramedics to cardiac arrest victims may cost lives rather than save them, while the best treatment might just be good cardiopulmonary resuscitation given by paramedics or emergency medical technicians and getting the patient to the hospital as fast as possible. These findings were published online Nov. 24 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Prachi Sanghavi, a Ph.D. student in the Harvard Program in Health Policy, and colleagues used a large sample of Medicare claims for ambulance services in urban areas between 2009 and 2011. Using these data, they compared survival among 31,292 patients who received advanced life support with 1,643 who received basic life support.

More cardiac arrest patients treated with basic life support lived to leave the hospital than those treated with advanced life support (13.1 versus 9.2 percent). Also, more patients given basic life support were alive 90 days after the event than patients given advanced life support (8.0 versus 5.4 percent), the investigators found. Moreover, patients treated with basic life support were less likely to have poor mental functioning than those treated with advanced life support (21.8 versus 44.8 percent).

"We find survival is longer with basic life support than advanced life support, which calls into question the widespread assumption that advanced pre-hospital care improves outcomes in cardiac arrest compared with basic life support," Sanghavi told HealthDay.

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