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Cardiac arrest patients ‘unsupported’

Wednesday February 7th, 2018

Many cardiac arrest patients find it difficult to go back to their previous lives, according to a Europe wide study.

Swedish researchers studied outcomes for patients in Sweden, the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands and Italy.

Dr Gisela Lilja of Lund University, Sweden, and colleges from several other institutions, carried out a study of 270 patients who had an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

This showed that nearly half of the participants found it hard to go back to their previous lives, whether they were of working age or retired. This was often because of lack follow-up of the injuries they suffered to the brain due to their cardiac arrest.

Participants explained that they noticed cognitive problems such as impaired memory, difficulties with concentration and problem solving, and restricted mobility for at least six months after their cardiac arrest. Several also felt tired and depressed.

Dr Lilja said: "It is a surprisingly high proportion, we didn't believe there would be so many. In the study, when we also compared cardiac arrest patients with those who had suffered a heart attack, the control group, the cardiac arrest patients found it harder to return to their previous lives. In one of our previous studies we showed that the cardiac arrest survivors had particularly difficult with a slower mental processing speed compared to the control subjects.

"Now, we have also observed that this particular difficulty does not help them in their return to working life. These patients may be able to work for short periods of time, such as a couple of hours, but they cannot manage an eight-hour working day."

The authors, whose work appeared in Circulation Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes last month, believe that if cardiac arrest patients are treated like heart attack patients only, this will potentially have negative consequences on their rehabilitation and return to working life.

Lilja, G. et al. Return to Work and Participation in Society After Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes 11 January 2018; doi: 10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.117.003566 [abstract]

Tags: Europe | Heart Health

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