May 29, 2000

Pulmonary embolism as a cause of cardiac arrest: presentation and outcome

Archives of Internal Medicine
I KürkciyanA N Laggner


Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a possible noncardiac cause of cardiac arrest. Mortality is very high, and often diagnosis is established only by autopsy. In a retrospective study, we analyzed clinical presentation, diagnosis, therapy, and outcome of patients with cardiac arrest after PE admitted to the emergency department of an urban tertiary care hospital. Within 8 years, PE was found as the cause in 60 (4.8%) of 1246 cardiac arrest victims. The initial rhythm diagnosis was pulseless electrical activity in 38 (63%), asystole in 19 (32%), and ventricular fibrillation in 3 (5%) of the patients. Pronounced metabolic acidosis (median pH, 6.95, and lactate level, 16 mmol/L) was found in most patients. In 18 patients (30%), the diagnosis of PE was established only postmortem. In 42 (70%) it was diagnosed clinically, in 24 of them the diagnosis of PE was confirmed by echocardiography. In 21 patients, 100 mg of recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator was administered as thrombolytic treatment, and 2 (10%) of these patients survived to hospital discharge. Comparison of patients of the thrombolysis group (n = 21) with those of the nonthrombolysis group (n = 21) showed a significantly higher rate of return of spontaneous circulation (...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Ventricular Fibrillation
Pulmonary Embolism
D-lactate Measurement
2D Echocardiography
Cause of Death
Thrombolytic Therapy

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