“New cardiac arrest research prompts reconsideration of current treatment to save patients” – Miriam Stoppard

according to dr Miriam Stoppard, there is mounting evidence that implantable defibrillators – a small device that corrects abnormal heart rhythms – could save people who have complications after a heart attack

man having a heart attack.
Patients who have a heart attack and then sudden cardiac arrest are at higher risk for complications

From time to time, research gives us a glimpse of the future, and the latest science from Imperial College London does just that. And it couldn’t be about a more important topic – the heart.

The study states that patients who survive a heart attack together with sudden cardiac arrest have an increased risk of dying in the following six years.

However, most heart attacks do not occur suddenly cardiac arrest. But when this occurs, a heart attack is a common cause.

Researchers led by Imperial College have used data from 13,444 patients collected between 2010 and 2017 and treated at five NHS Trust hospitals. They were followed for three years to track the results.

They have shown for the first time that patients who have a heart attack and then sudden cardiac arrest are at greater risk of further complications.

Those who were in cardiac arrest at the time of their heart attack were twice as likely to develop a life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm (ventricular arrhythmia) as those who had only one heart attack.

Cardiac arrest patients were 36% more likely to die within three years of being discharged from hospital. The researchers suggest that this small subset of patients could benefit from an implantable defibrillator (ICD) – a small device that corrects abnormal heart rhythms – which could improve their chances of survival.

dr Fu Siong Ng, Clinical Senior Lecturer in Cardiac Electrophysiology Imperial College Londonsays: “There is a case that these patients may benefit from ICDs in addition to the current treatments offered to heart attack patients.

“Most heart attack patients do not experience cardiac arrest. However, our study showed that there is a small group of patients who do, and if they survive the initial cardiac arrest, they are at increased risk of further complications and early death.”

Arunashis Sau, first author of the study and Clinical Research Fellow at Imperial College London, says: “This is the first study to find an association between patients having a heart attack combined with sudden cardiac arrest and early death after surviving the first event.

“Our findings have significant implications for this subset of patients and how we treat them. The study raises the question of what else we can do to potentially offer more treatment options so we can improve outcomes for these patients.”

Shouldn’t an ICD be routinely considered for patients who are having a heart attack plus cardiac arrest?

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