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New Local Protocol Helping Treat Cases Of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Feb 13, 2018

A new protocol being used in Columbus to treat sudden cardiac arrest patients has shown promising results. 

Mike Foley reports. 

When someone goes into sudden cardiac arrest and first responders are unable to restore the heart’s normal rhythm, doctors say there’s really no chance of survival. But that’s beginning to change with a new partnership between the Columbus Division of Fire and Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. If a patient fails to respond to three defibrillation attempts, EMS issues an alert to the medical center. Medics connect the patient to a mechanical CPR device for transport directly to the cardiac catheterization lab. There, an ECMO machine allows the patient’s heart and lungs to rest while doctors find and treat the problem. Dr. Ernest Mazzaferri Jr. is the medical director at Ohio State’s Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital.

“The more time we wait, the more damage that’s done to the heart and all of your organs including your brain. That’s why we have this protocol with Columbus Fire to bring them directly to the cath lab for this procedure so that we can get them improved and hopefully healthy as quickly as possible. Typically these patients would die in the field, and we didn’t have any options to recover them. So now we have the opportunity to take somebody who had a 100 percent mortality and bring them to the cath lab and in certain situations, they walk right out of the hospital.”  

While it’s only been tested in a few small studies, doctors say the limited data shows the new protocol increases the survival rate to about 40 percent. With continued success in Columbus and other pilot studies, experts hope it becomes a standard of care in treating sudden cardiac arrest.