Resuscitation Council (UK)
Adult Advanced Life Support

This section on adult advanced life support (ALS) adheres to the same general
principles as in Guidelines 2000, but incorporates some important changes. The
guidelines in this section apply to healthcare professionals trained in ALS
techniques. Laypeople, first responders, and automated external defibrillator
(AED) users are referred to the basic life support (BLS) and AED sections.
Guideline changes
CPR before defibrillation
• In the case of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest attended, but unwitnessed, by healthcare professionals equipped with manual defibril ators, give CPR for 2 min (i.e. about 5 cycles at 30:2) before • Do not delay defibrillation if an out-of-hospital arrest is witnessed by a healthcare professional. • Do not delay defibrillation for in-hospital cardiac arrest.
Defibrillation strategy
• Treat ventricular fibrillation/pulseless ventricular tachycardia (VF/VT) with a single shock, fol owed by immediate resumption of CPR (30 compressions to 2 ventilations). Do not reassess the rhythm or feel for a pulse. After 2 min of CPR, check the rhythm and give another shock (if indicated). • The recommended initial energy for biphasic defibrillators is 150-200 J. Give second and subsequent shocks at 150-360 J. • The recommended energy when using a monophasic defibrillator is 360 J for both the initial and subsequent shocks. • If there is doubt about whether the rhythm is asystole or fine VF, do NOT attempt defibrillation; instead, continue chest compression and
Adrenaline (epinephrine)
• Give adrenaline 1 mg IV if VF/VT persists after a second shock. • Repeat the adrenaline every 3-5 min thereafter if VF/VT persists. RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK) Adult Advanced Life Support Algorithm
Look for signs of life Resuscitation Team Until defibrillator / monitor (VF / pulseless VT) (PEA / Asystole) During CPR:
• Correct reversible causes* • Check electrode position 150-360 J biphasic Attempt / verify: or 360 J monophasic airway and oxygen • Give uninterrupted compressions when Immediately resume • Give adrenaline Immediately resume Consider: amiodarone, atropine, magnesium * Reversible Causes
Tension pneumothorax Tamponade, cardiac Thrombosis (coronary or pulmonary) 42 RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK) Pulseless electrical activity / asystole
• Give adrenaline 1 mg IV as soon as intravenous access is achieved and repeat every 3-5 min.
Anti-arrhythmic drugs
• If VF/VT persists after three shocks, give amiodarone 300 mg by bolus injection. A further dose of 150 mg may be given for recurrent or refractory VF/VT, fol owed by an infusion of 900 mg over 24 h. • If amiodarone is not available, lidocaine 1 mg kg-1 may be used as an alternative, but do not give lidocaine if amiodarone has already been given. Do not exceed a total dose of 3 mg kg-1 during the first hour.
Post resuscitation care – therapeutic hypothermia
• Unconscious adult patients with spontaneous circulation after out-of- hospital VF cardiac arrest should be cooled to 32-34°C for 12-24 h. • Mild hypothermia may also benefit unconscious patients with spontaneous circulation after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest due to a non-shockable rhythm, or after cardiac arrest in hospital.
ALS treatment algorithm
Arrhythmias associated with cardiac arrest are divided into two groups: shockable
rhythms (VF/VT) and non-shockable rhythms (asystole and PEA). The principle
difference in management is the need for attempted defibrillation in patients with
VF/VT. Subsequent actions, including chest compression, airway management
and ventilation, venous access, administration of adrenaline, and the
identification and correction of reversible factors, are common to both groups.
The ALS treatment algorithm provides a standardised approach to the
management of adult patients in cardiac arrest.
Shockable rhythms (VF/VT)
Sequence of actions

• Attempt defibrillation (one shock - 150-200 J biphasic or 360 J • Immediately resume chest compressions (30:2) without reassessing the rhythm or feeling for a pulse. • Continue CPR for 2 min, then pause briefly to check the monitor: o If VF/VT persists: • Give a further (2nd) shock (150-360 J biphasic or 360 J • Resume CPR immediately and continue for 2 min. • Pause briefly to check the monitor. RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK) • If VF/VT persists give adrenaline 1 mg IV followed immediately by a (3rd) shock (150-360 J biphasic or 360 J monophasic). • Resume CPR immediately and continue for 2 min. • Pause briefly to check the monitor. • If VF/VT persists give amiodarone 300 mg IV followed immediately by a (4th) shock (150-360 J biphasic or 360 J monophasic). • Resume CPR immediately and continue for 2 min. • Give adrenaline 1 mg IV immediately before alternate shocks (i.e. approximately every 3-5 min). • Give a further shock after each 2 min period of CPR and after confirming that VF/VT persists. o If organised electrical activity is seen during this brief pause in compressions, check for a pulse. • If a pulse is present, start post-resuscitation care. • If no pulse is present, continue CPR and switch to the non- shockable algorithm. o If asystole is seen, continue CPR and switch to the non- shockable algorithm.
Precordial thump
Consider giving a single precordial thump when cardiac arrest is confirmed
rapidly after a witnessed and monitored sudden collapse, and a defibrillator is not
immediately to hand. A precordial thump should be undertaken immediately after
confirmation of cardiac arrest but only by healthcare professionals trained in the
technique. Using the ulnar edge of a tightly clenched fist, deliver a sharp impact
to the lower half of the sternum from a height of about 20 cm, then retract the fist
immediately to create an impulse-like stimulus. A precordial thump is most likely
to be successful in converting VT to sinus rhythm. Successful treatment of VF by
precordial thump is much less likely: in all the reported successful cases the
precordial thump was given within the first 10 seconds of VF. There are very rare
reports of a precordial thump converting a perfusing to a non-perfusing rhythm.
Explanation for the changes in the treatment of VF/VT
CPR before defibrillation
Although Guidelines 2000 recommended immediate defibrillation for all
shockable rhythms, recent evidence indicates that a period of CPR before
defibrillation may improve survival after prolonged collapse (> 5 min).1 The
duration of collapse is frequently difficult to estimate accurately, so give CPR
before attempted defibrillation outside hospital, unless the arrest is witnessed by
a healthcare professional or an AED is being used. This advice does NOT apply
to lay responders using an AED outside hospital, who should apply the AED as
soon as it is available.
In contrast, there is no evidence to support or refute CPR before defibrillation for
in-hospital cardiac arrest. For this reason, after in-hospital VF/VT cardiac arrest,
give a shock as soon as possible.
44 RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK) Defibrillation strategy
There are no published human or experimental studies comparing a single shock
protocol with a three-stacked shock protocol for the treatment of VF/VT cardiac
arrest. Experimental studies show that relatively short interruptions in chest
compression to deliver rescue breaths or perform rhythm analysis are associated
with reduced survival.2,3 Interruptions in chest compression also reduce the
chances of converting VF to another rhythm.4 Significant interruptions in chest
compression are common during out-of-hospital and in-hospital cardiac arrest.5,6
When using a three-shock protocol, the time taken to deliver shocks and analyse
the rhythm causes significant interruptions in CPR. This fact, combined with the
improved first shock efficacy (for termination of VF/VT) of biphasic defibrillators,
has prompted the recommendation of a single-shock strategy.
With first shock efficacy of biphasic waveforms exceeding 90%, failure to
terminate VF/VT successfully implies the need for a period of CPR (to improve
myocardial oxygenation) rather than a further shock. Even if defibrillation is
successful in restoring a perfusing rhythm, it is very rare for a pulse to be
palpable immediately afterwards, and the delay in trying to palpate a pulse will
further compromise the myocardium if a perfusing rhythm has not been restored.7
If a perfusing rhythm has been restored, giving chest compression does not
increase the chance of VF recurring. In the presence of post-shock asystole,
however, chest compressions may induce VF.
The initial shock from a biphasic defibrillator should be no lower than 120 J for
rectilinear biphasic waveforms, and 150 J for biphasic truncated exponential
waveforms. For uniformity, it is recommended that the initial biphasic shock
should be at least 150 J. If an initial shock has been unsuccessful it may be
worth attempting the second and subsequent shocks with a higher energy level.
However, there is no evidence to support either a fixed or escalating energy
protocol. Both strategies are acceptable. Manufacturers should display the
effective waveform energy range on the face of the biphasic device. If you are
unaware of the effective energy range of the device, use 200 J for the first shock.
This 200 J default has been chosen because it falls within the reported range of
selected energy levels that are effective for first and subsequent biphasic shocks,
and can be provided by every biphasic manual defibrillator available today. It is a
consensus default and not a recommended ideal. If biphasic devices are clearly
labelled, and providers are familiar with the devices they use in clinical care,
there will be no need for the default 200 J. Ongoing research is necessary to
establish the most appropriate initial settings for both monophasic and biphasic
Because of the lower efficacy of monophasic defibrillators for terminating VF/VT,
and the change to a single-shock strategy, the recommended initial energy level
for the first shock using a monophasic defibrillator is 360 J. If needed, second
and subsequent shocks should be given at 360 J. A monophasic waveform is
less efficient than a biphasic waveform at terminating VF/VT, and most
manufacturers now sell only biphasic devices. The urgency with which
monophasic defibrillators are replaced must be determined locally, taking into
consideration available resources and competing healthcare demands.
RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK) Fine VF
Fine VF that is difficult to distinguish from asystole is very unlikely to be shocked
successfully into a perfusing rhythm. Continuing good quality CPR may improve
the amplitude and frequency of the VF and improve the chance of successful
defibrillation to a perfusing rhythm. Delivering repeated shocks in an attempt to
defibrillate what is thought to be fine VF will increase myocardial injury, both
directly from the electric current and indirectly from the interruptions in coronary
blood flow.
There is no placebo-controlled study that shows that the routine use of any
vasopressor at any stage during human cardiac arrest increases survival to
hospital discharge. Current evidence is insufficient to support or refute the
routine use of any particular drug or sequence of drugs. Despite the lack of
human data the use of adrenaline is still recommended, based largely on
experimental data. The alpha-adrenergic actions of adrenaline cause
vasoconstriction, which increases myocardial and cerebral perfusion pressure
during cardiac arrest.
Immediate resumption of CPR after shock delivery, along with the elimination of a
rhythm check at this stage, makes it difficult to select an ideal point in the ALS
algorithm at which to give adrenaline. The consensus recommendation is to give
adrenaline immediately after confirmation of the rhythm and just before shock
delivery (drug–shock–CPR–rhythm check sequence). Have the adrenaline
ready to give so that the delay between stopping chest compression and delivery
of the shock is minimised. The adrenaline that is given immediately before the
shock will be circulated by the CPR that follows the shock.
When the rhythm is checked 2 min after giving a shock, if a non-shockable
rhythm is present and the rhythm is organised (complexes appear regular or
narrow), try to palpate a pulse. Rhythm checks must be brief, and pulse checks
undertaken only if an organised rhythm is observed. If an organised rhythm is
seen during a 2-min period of CPR, do not interrupt chest compressions to
palpate a pulse unless the patient shows signs of life suggesting return of
spontaneous circulation (ROSC). If there is any doubt about the existence of a
pulse in the presence of an organised rhythm, resume CPR. If the patient has
ROSC, begin post-resuscitation care.
If the patient's rhythm changes to asystole or PEA see non-shockable rhythms
below. In patients in asystole or PEA, give adrenaline 1 mg IV immediately
intravenous access is achieved.
In both VF/VT and PEA / asystole, give adrenaline 1 mg IV every 3-5 min
(approximately every other two-minute loop).
In patients with a spontaneous circulation, doses considerably smaller than 1 mg
IV may be required to maintain an adequate blood pressure.
46 RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK) Vasopressin
A recent meta-analysis of five randomised trials showed no statistically significant
difference between vasopressin and adrenaline for ROSC, death within 24 h, or
death before hospital discharge.8 A subgroup analysis, based on initial cardiac
rhythm, did not show any statistically significant difference in the rate of death
before hospital discharge. Despite the absence of placebo-controlled trials,
adrenaline has been the standard vasopressor in cardiac arrest. There is
insufficient evidence to support or refute the use of vasopressin as an alternative
to, or in combination with, adrenaline in any cardiac arrest rhythm. Thus,
adrenaline remains the primary vasopressor for the treatment of cardiac arrest in
all rhythms.
Anti-arrhythmic drugs
There is no evidence that giving any anti-arrhythmic drug routinely during human
cardiac arrest increases survival to hospital discharge. In comparison with
placebo and lidocaine, the use of amiodarone in shock-refractory VF improves
survival to hospital admission.9,10 There are no data on the use of amiodarone
for shock-refractory VF/VT when single shocks are used. On the basis of expert
consensus, if VF/VT persists after three shocks, give amiodarone 300 mg by
bolus injection during the brief rhythm analysis before delivery of the fourth
shock. A further dose of 150 mg may be given for recurrent or refractory VF/VT,
followed by an infusion of 900 mg over 24 h. Lidocaine 1 mg kg-1 may be used
as an alternative if amiodarone is not available, but do not give lidocaine if
amiodarone has been given already.
Non-shockable rhythms (PEA and asystole)
Pulseless electrical activity (PEA) is defined as cardiac electrical activity in the absence of any palpable pulse. These patients often have some mechanical myocardial contractions but they are too weak to produce a detectable pulse or blood pressure. PEA may be caused by reversible conditions that can be treated if they are identified and corrected (see below). Survival following cardiac arrest with asystole or PEA is unlikely unless a reversible cause can be found and treated effectively.
Sequence of actions for PEA
• Start CPR 30:2. • Give adrenaline 1 mg IV as soon as intravascular access is achieved. • Continue CPR 30:2 until the airway is secured, then continue chest compressions without pausing during ventilation. • Recheck the rhythm after 2 min. o If there is no change in the ECG appearance: • Continue CPR. • Recheck the rhythm after 2 min and proceed accordingly. • Give further adrenaline 1 mg IV every 3-5 min (alternate o If the ECG changes and organised electrical activity is seen,
check for a pulse. RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK) • If a pulse is present, start post-resuscitation care.
• If no pulse is present:
Continue CPR. Recheck the rhythm after 2 min and proceed Give further adrenaline 1 mg IV every 3-5 min (alternate loops).
Sequence of actions for asystole and slow PEA (rate < 60 min-1)
• Start CPR 30:2. • Without stopping CPR, check that the leads are attached correctly. • Give adrenaline 1 mg IV as soon as intravascular access is achieved. • Give atropine 3 mg IV (once only). • Continue CPR 30:2 until the airway is secured, then continue chest compression without pausing during ventilation. • Recheck the rhythm after 2 min and proceed accordingly. • If VF/VT recurs, change to the shockable rhythm algorithm. • Give adrenaline 1 mg IV every 3-5 min (alternate loops). Asystole
Asystole is a condition that can be precipitated or exacerbated by excessive
vagal tone. Theoretically, this can be reversed by a vagolytic drug; therefore,
give atropine 3 mg (the dose that will provide maximum vagal blockade) for
asystole or slow PEA (rate < 60 min-1).
Whenever a diagnosis of asystole is made, check the ECG carefully for the
presence of P waves because the patient may respond to cardiac pacing. There
is no value in attempting to pace true asystole.
During CPR
During the treatment of persistent VF/VT or PEA / asystole, there should be an
emphasis on giving good quality chest compression between defibrillation
attempts, recognising and treating reversible causes (4 Hs and 4 Ts), and
obtaining a secure airway and intravenous access. Healthcare providers must
practise efficient coordination between CPR and shock delivery. The shorter the
interval between cessation of chest compression and shock delivery, the more
likely it is that the shock will be successful. Reduction in the interval from
compression to shock delivery by even a few seconds can increase the
probability of shock success. Providing CPR with a CV ratio of 30:2 is tiring;
change the individual undertaking compressions every 2 min.
Potentially reversible causes
Potential causes or aggravating factors for which specific treatment exists must be sought during any cardiac arrest. For ease of memory, these are divided into two groups of four, based upon their initial letter, either H or T: 48 RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK) • Hypoxia
Hyperkalaemia, hypokalaemia, hypocalcaemia, acidaemia, and other
metabolic disorders • Hypothermia
Tension pneumothorax
Toxic substances
Thromboembolism (pulmonary embolus/coronary thrombosis)
The four ‘Hs'
Minimise the risk of hypoxia by ensuring that the patient's lungs are ventilated
adequately with 100% oxygen. Make sure there is adequate chest rise and
bilateral breath sounds. Using the techniques described below, check carefully
that the tracheal tube is not misplaced in a bronchus or the oesophagus.
Pulseless electrical activity caused by hypovolaemia is usually due to severe
haemorrhage. This may be precipitated by trauma, gastrointestinal bleeding, or
rupture of an aortic aneurysm. Restore intravascular volume rapidly with fluid,
coupled with urgent surgery to stop the haemorrhage.
Hyperkalaemia, hypokalaemia, hypocalcaemia, acidaemia, and other metabolic
disorders are detected by biochemical tests or suggested by the patient's medical
history, e.g. renal failure. A 12-lead ECG may be diagnostic. Intravenous
calcium chloride is indicated in the presence of hyperkalaemia, hypocalcaemia,
and calcium-channel-blocking drug overdose.
Suspect hypothermia in any drowning incident; use a low-reading thermometer.
The four ‘Ts'
A tension pneumothorax may be the primary cause of PEA and may fol ow
attempts at central venous catheter insertion. The diagnosis is made clinically.
Decompress rapidly by needle thoracocentesis, and then insert a chest drain.
Cardiac tamponade is difficult to diagnose because the typical signs of distended
neck veins and hypotension are usually obscured by the arrest itself. Cardiac
arrest after penetrating chest trauma is highly suggestive of tamponade and is an
indication for needle pericardiocentesis or resuscitative thoracotomy.
In the absence of a specific history, the accidental or deliberate ingestion of
therapeutic or toxic substances may be revealed only by laboratory
investigations. Where available, the appropriate antidotes should be used, but
most often treatment is supportive.
The commonest cause of thromboembolic or mechanical circulatory obstruction
is massive pulmonary embolus. If cardiac arrest is thought to be caused by
pulmonary embolism, consider giving a thrombolytic drug immediately.
RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK) Thrombolysis may be considered in adult cardiac arrest, on a case-by-case
basis, following initial failure of standard resuscitation in patients in whom an
acute thrombotic aetiology for the arrest is suspected. Ongoing CPR is not a
contraindication to thrombolysis.
Intravenous fluids
Hypovolaemia is a potentially reversible cause of cardiac arrest: infuse fluids
rapidly if hypovolaemia is suspected. In the initial stages of resuscitation there
are no clear advantages to using colloid: use saline or Hartmann's solution.
Avoid dextrose; this is redistributed away from the intravascular space rapidly,
and causes hyperglycaemia which may worsen neurological outcome after
cardiac arrest.
Open-chest cardiac compression
Open-chest cardiac compression may be indicated for patients with cardiac arrest
caused by trauma, in the early postoperative phase after cardiothoracic surgery,
or when the chest or abdomen is already open, for example during surgery
following trauma.
Signs of life
If signs of life (such as regular respiratory effort or movement) reappear during
CPR, or readings from the patient's monitors (e.g. exhaled carbon dioxide or
arterial blood pressure) are compatible with a return of spontaneous circulation,
stop CPR and check the monitors briefly. If an organised cardiac rhythm is
present, check for a pulse. If a pulse is palpable, continue post-resuscitation
care, treatment of peri-arrest arrhythmias, or both. If no pulse is present,
continue CPR.
Strategies before defibrillation
Safe use of oxygen
In an oxygen-enriched atmosphere, sparks from poorly-applied defibrillator
paddles can cause a fire. Taking the following precautions can minimise this risk:
• Remove any oxygen mask or nasal cannulae and place them at least 1 m away from the patient's chest. • Leave the ventilation bag connected to the tracheal tube or other airway adjunct. Alternatively, disconnect the ventilation bag from the tracheal tube and move it at least 1 m from the patient's chest during • The use of self-adhesive defibrillation pads, rather than manual paddles, may minimise the risk of sparks occurring.
Chest hair
It may be necessary rapidly to shave the area intended for electrode placement,
but do not delay defibrillation if a razor is not immediately available.
50 RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK) Paddle force
If using paddles, apply them firmly to the chest wall. The optimal force is 8 kg in
adults, and 5 kg in children 1-8 years using adult paddles. Place water-based gel
pads between the paddles and the patient's skin.
Electrode position
Place the right (sternal) electrode to the right of the sternum, below the clavicle.
Place the apical paddle vertically in the mid-axillary line, approximately level with
the V6 ECG electrode position or the female breast. This position should be
clear of any breast tissue. It is important that this electrode is placed sufficiently
Antero-posterior electrode placement may be more effective than the traditional
antero-apical position in cardioversion of atrial fibrillation. Either position is
An implantable medical device (e.g. permanent pacemaker or automatic
implantable cardioverter defibrillator (AICD)) may be damaged during
defibrillation if current is discharged through electrodes placed directly over the
device. Place the electrode away from the device or use an alternative electrode
position. Remove any transdermal drug patches on the chest wall before
Pads versus paddles
Self-adhesive defibrillation pads are safe and effective and are an acceptable
alternative to standard defibrillation paddles. They enable the operator to
defibrillate from a safe distance, rather than leaning over the patient as occurs
with paddles. When used for initial monitoring of a rhythm, both pads and
paddles enable quicker delivery of the first shock compared with standard ECG
electrodes, but pads are quicker than paddles.
Airway management and ventilation
The principles of airway and ventilation management remain unchanged from Guidelines 2000. Patients requiring resuscitation often have an obstructed airway. Prompt assessment, with control of the airway and ventilation of the lungs, is essential. Without adequate oxygenation it may be impossible to restore a spontaneous cardiac output. In a witnessed cardiac arrest in the vicinity of a defibrillator, attempted defibrillation should take precedence over opening the airway. Give high-flow oxygen. In the spontaneously breathing patient, masks with non-rebreathing reservoir bags are more effective than standard masks. Basic airway manoeuvres and airway adjuncts
Assess the airway. Use head tilt and chin lift, or jaw thrust to open the airway. Simple airway adjuncts (oropharyngeal or nasopharyngeal airways) are often helpful, and sometimes essential, to maintain an open airway. RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK)
Provide artificial ventilation as soon as possible in any patient in whom spontaneous ventilation is inadequate or absent. Expired air ventilation (rescue breathing) is effective but the rescuer's expired oxygen concentration is only 16-17%, so it must be replaced as soon as possible by ventilation with oxygen-enriched air. A pocket resuscitation mask enables mouth-to-mask ventilation. Some enable supplemental oxygen to be given. Use a two-hand technique to maximise the seal with the patient's face. A self-inflating bag can be connected to a facemask, tracheal tube, or alternative airway device. The two-person technique for bag-mask ventilation is preferable. Deliver each breath over approximately 1 sec and give a volume that corresponds to normal chest movement; this represents a compromise between giving an adequate volume, minimising the risk of gastric inflation, and allowing adequate time for chest compression. During CPR with an unprotected airway, give two ventilations after each sequence of 30 chest compressions. Once an airway device has been inserted, ventilate the lungs at a rate of about 10 breaths min-1 and continue chest compression without pausing during ventilation. Alternative airway devices
Laryngeal mask airway (LMA)
A laryngeal mask airway is relatively easy to insert, and ventilation using an LMA
is more efficient and easier than with a bag-mask. If gas leakage is excessive,
chest compression will have to be interrupted to enable ventilation. Although an
LMA does not protect the airway as reliably as a tracheal tube, pulmonary
aspiration is uncommon when using an LMA during cardiac arrest.
The Combitube
A Combitube is relatively easy to insert and ventilation using this device is more
efficient and easier than with a bag-mask. Great care must be taken to avoid
attempting to ventilate the lungs through the wrong port of the Combitube.
Tracheal intubation
There is insufficient evidence to support or refute the use of any specific technique to maintain an airway and provide ventilation in adults with cardiopulmonary arrest. Despite this, tracheal intubation is perceived as the optimal method of providing and maintaining a clear and secure airway. It should be used only when trained personnel are available to carry out the procedure with a high level of skill and confidence. The perceived advantages of tracheal intubation over bag-mask ventilation include: • maintenance of a patent airway, which is protected from aspiration of gastric contents or blood from the oropharynx; • ability to provide an adequate tidal volume reliably even when chest compressions are uninterrupted; 52 RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK) • the potential to free the rescuer's hands for other tasks; • the ability to suction airway secretions; • the provision of a route for giving drugs. Use of the bag-mask is more likely to cause gastric distension which, theoretically, is more likely to cause regurgitation and aspiration. However, there are no reliable data to indicate that the incidence of aspiration is any higher in cardiac arrest patients ventilated using a bag-mask compared with those ventilated via a tracheal tube. The perceived disadvantages of tracheal intubation over bag-mask ventilation include: • the risk of an unrecognised, misplaced tracheal tube; • a prolonged time without chest compression while intubation is • a comparatively high failure rate.
Intubation success rates correlate with the intubation experience of the individual.
Healthcare professionals who undertake intubation should do so only within a
structured, monitored programme, which should include comprehensive
competency-based training and regular opportunities to refresh skills.
Rescuers must weigh the risks and benefits of intubation against the need to
provide effective chest compression. The intubation attempt will require
interruption of chest compression, but once an advanced airway is in place
ventilation can continue uninterrupted. Those skilled in advanced airway
management should be able to undertake laryngoscopy without stopping chest
compression; a brief pause in chest compression will be required as the tube is
passed through the vocal cords. Alternatively, to avoid any interruption, the
intubation attempt may be deferred until ROSC. No intubation attempt should
take longer than 30 sec. If intubation has not been achieved by then,
recommence bag-mask ventilation. After intubation, tube placement must be
confirmed and the tube secured adequately.
Confirmation of correct placement of the tracheal tube
Unrecognised oesophageal intubation is the most serious complication of
attempted tracheal intubation. Routine use of primary and secondary techniques
to confirm correct placement of the tracheal tube should reduce this risk. Primary
assessment should include bilateral observation of chest expansion, bilateral
auscultation in the axillae (breath sounds should be equal and adequate), and
auscultation over the epigastrium (breath sounds should not be heard). Clinical
signs of correct tube placement (condensation in the tube, chest rise, breath
sounds on auscultation of lungs, and inability to hear gas entering the stomach)
are not completely reliable. Secondary confirmation of tracheal tube placement
by an exhaled CO2 or oesophageal detector device should reduce the risk of
unrecognised oesophageal intubation. If there is doubt about correct tube placement, use the laryngoscope and look directly to see if the tube passes through the vocal cords. RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK) None of the secondary confirmation techniques will differentiate between a tube placed in a main bronchus and one placed correctly in the trachea. There are inadequate data to identify the optimal method of confirming tube placement during cardiac arrest, and all devices should be considered as adjuncts to other confirmatory techniques. During cardiac arrest pulmonary blood flow may be so low that there is insufficient exhaled CO2, so the CO2 detector does not identify a correctly placed tracheal tube. When exhaled CO2 is detected during cardiac arrest it indicates reliably that the tube is in the trachea or main bronchus, but when it is absent tracheal tube placement is best confirmed with an oesophageal detector device. A variety of electronic as well as simple, inexpensive, colorimetric CO2 detectors are available for both in-hospital and out-of-hospital use.
If it is impossible to ventilate an apnoeic patient with a bag-mask, or to pass a
tracheal tube or alternative airway device, delivery of oxygen through a cannula
or surgical cricothyroidotomy may be life saving.
Assisting the circulation
Intravenous access
Peripheral versus central venous drug delivery
Peripheral venous cannulation is quicker, easier to perform, and safer. Drugs
injected peripherally must be followed by a flush of at least 20 ml of fluid. Central
venous line insertion must cause minimal interruption of chest compression.
Intraosseous route
If intravenous access is difficult or impossible, consider the intraosseous route for
both children and adults. The intraosseous route also enables withdrawal of
marrow for venous blood gas analysis and measurement of electrolytes and
haemoglobin concentration.
Tracheal route
If intravenous or intraosseous access cannot be established, some drugs can be
given by the tracheal route. The dose of adrenaline is 3 mg diluted to at least
10 ml with sterile water.
The use of adrenaline and anti-arrhythmic drugs has been discussed above. Magnesium
Give magnesium sulphate 8 mmol (4 ml of a 50% solution) for refractory VF if
there is any suspicion of hypomagnesaemia (e.g. patients on potassium-losing
diuretics). Other indications are:
54 RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK) • ventricular tachyarrhythmias in the presence of possible hypomagnesaemia; • torsade de pointes; • digoxin toxicity.
Giving sodium bicarbonate routinely during cardiac arrest and CPR (especially in
out-of-hospital cardiac arrest), or after ROSC, is not recommended. Give sodium
bicarbonate (50 mmol) if cardiac arrest is associated with hyperkalaemia or
tricyclic antidepressant overdose. Repeat the dose according to the clinical
condition of the patient and the results of repeated blood gas analysis.
Blockade of parasympathetic activity at both the sinoatrial (SA) node and the
atrioventricular (AV) node may increase sinus automaticity and facilitate AV node
conduction. The adult dose of atropine for asystole, or PEA with a rate
< 60 min-1, is 3 mg IV.
Calcium is indicated during resuscitation from PEA if this is thought to be caused
• hyperkalaemia; • hypocalcaemia; • overdose of calcium-channel-blocking drugs; • overdose of magnesium (e.g. during treatment of pre-eclampsia). The initial dose of 10 ml 10% calcium chloride (6.8 mmol Ca2+) may be repeated if necessary. Remember that calcium can slow the heart rate and precipitate arrhythmias. In cardiac arrest, calcium may be given by rapid intravenous injection. In the presence of a spontaneous circulation it should be given slowly. Do not give calcium solutions and sodium bicarbonate simultaneously by the same venous access. Post-resuscitation care
Return of spontaneous circulation is just the first step towards the goal of complete recovery from cardiac arrest. Interventions in the post-resuscitation period influence the final outcome significantly. The post-resuscitation phase starts when ROSC is achieved. Once stabilised, the patient should be transferred to the most appropriate high-care area (e.g. intensive care unit or cardiac care unit) for continued monitoring and treatment.
Airway and breathing
Consider tracheal intubation, sedation, and controlled ventilation in any patient with obtunded cerebral function. Adjust ventilation to achieve normocarbia and monitor this using the end-tidal CO2 and arterial blood gas values. Adjust the RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK) inspired oxygen concentrations to achieve adequate arterial oxygen saturation. Insert a gastric tube to decompress the stomach; gastric distension caused by mouth-to-mouth or bag-mask ventilation will splint the diaphragm and impair ventilation. Obtain a chest radiograph to check the position of the tracheal tube and central venous lines and exclude a pneumothorax associated with rib fractures from CPR.
Haemodynamic instability is common after cardiac arrest. An arterial line for
continuous blood pressure monitoring is essential, and the use of a non-invasive
cardiac output monitor may be helpful. Infusion of fluids may be required to
optimise filling. Conversely, diuretics and vasodilators may be needed to treat
left ventricular failure. Infusion of an inotrope may be required to maintain a
mean arterial blood pressure that is no lower than the normal pressure for the
patient, and achieves an adequate urine output. Maintain the serum potassium
concentration between 4.0-4.5 mmol l-1. If there is evidence of coronary
occlusion, consider the need for immediate revascularisation by thrombolytic
therapy or percutaneous coronary intervention.
Disability (optimising neurological recovery)
If sedation is required, short-acting drugs (e.g. propofol, alfentanil, remifentanil)
will enable earlier neurological assessment.
Control of seizures
Seizures are relatively common in the post-resuscitation period and may cause
cerebral injury. Control seizures with benzodiazepines, phenytoin, propofol, or a
barbiturate as appropriate.

Temperature control
Treatment of hyperpyrexia
A period of hyperthermia is common in the first 48 h after cardiac arrest. The risk
of a poor neurological outcome increases for each degree of body temperature
above 37°C. Treat hyperthermia occurring in the first 72 h after cardiac arrest
with antipyretics or active cooling.
Therapeutic hypothermia
Mild hypothermia is thought to suppress many of the chemical reactions
associated with reperfusion injury. Two randomised clinical trials showed
improved outcome in adults, remaining comatose after initial resuscitation from
out-of-hospital VF cardiac arrest, who were cooled within minutes to hours after
Unconscious adult patients with spontaneous circulation after out-of-hospital VF
cardiac arrest should be cooled to 32-34°C.13 Cooling should be started as soon
as possible and continued for at least 12-24 h. Induced hypothermia may also
benefit unconscious adult patients with spontaneous circulation after out-of-
hospital cardiac arrest from a non-shockable rhythm, or cardiac arrest in hospital.
Treat shivering by ensuring adequate sedation and giving neuromuscular-
56 RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK) blocking drugs. Bolus doses of neuromuscular blockers are usually adequate but
infusions are occasionally necessary. Re-warm the patient slowly (0.25-0.5oC
h-1) and avoid hyperthermia. The optimum target temperature, rate of cooling,
duration of hypothermia, and rate of rewarming have yet to be determined; further
studies are essential.
External or internal cooling techniques or both can be used to initiate treatment.
An infusion of 30 ml kg-1 saline at 4oC decreases core temperature by 1.5oC.
Intravascular cooling enables more precise control of core temperature than
external methods, but it is unknown whether this improves outcome.
Complications of mild therapeutic hypothermia include increased infection,
cardiovascular instability, coagulopathy, hyperglycaemia, and electrolyte
abnormalities such as hypophosphataemia and hypomagnesaemia.
Blood glucose control
There is a strong association between high blood glucose levels after
resuscitation from cardiac arrest and poor neurological outcome. Tight control of
blood glucose (4.4 - 6.1 mmol l-1) using insulin reduces hospital mortality in
critically ill adults, but this has not been demonstrated in post-cardiac-arrest
patients specifically.
The optimal blood glucose target level in critically ill patients has not been
determined. Comatose patients are at particular risk from unrecognised
hypoglycaemia, and the risk of this complication occurring increases as the target
blood glucose concentration is lowered.
In common with all critically ill patients, patients admitted to a critical-care
environment after cardiac arrest should have their blood glucose monitored
frequently and hyperglycaemia treated with an insulin infusion. The blood
glucose concentration that triggers insulin therapy and the target range of blood
glucose concentrations should be determined by local policy. There is a need for
studies of glucose control after cardiac arrest.
There are no neurological signs that can predict outcome in the comatose patient
in the first hours after ROSC. By three days after the onset of coma related to
cardiac arrest, 50% of patients with no chance of ultimate recovery have died. In
the remaining patients, the absence of pupil light reflexes on day three, and an
absent motor response to pain on day three, are both independently predictive of
a poor outcome (death or vegetative state) with very high specificity.
Wik L, Hansen TB, Fylling F, et al. Delaying Defibrillation to Give Basic Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation to Patients with Out-of-Hospital Ventricular Fibrillation: A Randomized Trial. JAMA 2003;289:1389-95. RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005 Resuscitation Council (UK) Berg RA, Sanders AB, Kern KB, et al. Adverse hemodynamic effects of interrupting chest compressions for rescue breathing during cardiopulmonary resuscitation for ventricular fibrillation cardiac arrest. Circulation 2001;104:2465-70. Kern KB, Hilwig RW, Berg RA, Sanders AB, Ewy GA. Importance of continuous chest compressions during cardiopulmonary resuscitation: improved outcome during a simulated single lay-rescuer scenario. Circulation 2002;105:645-9. Eftestol T, Sunde K, Steen PA. Effects of interrupting precordial compressions on the calculated probability of defibrillation success during out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Circulation 2002;105:2270-3. Wik L, Kramer-Johansen J, Myklebust H, et al. Quality of cardiopulmonary resuscitation during out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. JAMA 2005;293:299-304. Abella BS, Alvarado JP, Myklebust H, et al. Quality of cardiopulmonary resuscitation during in-hospital cardiac arrest. JAMA 2005;293:305-10. van Alem AP, Sanou BT, Koster RW. Interruption of cardiopulmonary resuscitation with the use of the automated external defibrillator in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Ann Emerg Med 2003;42:449-57. Aung K, Htay T. Vasopressin for cardiac arrest: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med 2005;165:17-24. Kudenchuk PJ, Cobb LA, Copass MK, et al. Amiodarone for resuscitation after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation. N Engl J Med 1999;341:871-8. Dorian P, Cass D, Schwartz B, Cooper R, Gelaznikas R, Barr A. Amiodarone as compared with lidocaine for shock-resistant ventricular fibrillation. N Engl J Med 2002;346:884-90. Hypothermia After Cardiac Arrest Study Group. Mild therapeutic hypothermia to improve the neurologic outcome after cardiac arrest. N Engl J Med 2002;346:549-56. Bernard SA, Gray TW, Buist MD, et al. Treatment of comatose survivors of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest with induced hypothermia. N Engl J Med 2002;346:557-63. Nolan JP, Morley PT, Vanden Hoek TL, Hickey RW. Therapeutic hypothermia after cardiac arrest. An advisory statement by the Advancement Life Support Task Force of the International Liaison committee on Resuscitation. Resuscitation 2003;57:231-5. 58 RESUSCITATION GUIDELINES 2005


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