AHA Adds Recovery, Emotional Support to CPR Guidelines

Will Pass

October 27, 2020

Highlights of new updated guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care from the American Heart Association include management of opioid-related emergencies; discussion of health disparities; and a new emphasis on physical, social, and emotional recovery after resuscitation.

The AHA is also exploring digital territory to improve CPR outcomes. The guidelines encourage use of mobile phone technology to summon trained laypeople to individuals requiring CPR, and an adaptive learning suite will be available online for personalized CPR instruction, with lessons catered to individual needs and knowledge levels.

These novel approaches reflect an ongoing effort by the AHA to ensure that the guidelines evolve rapidly with science and technology, reported Raina Merchant, MD, chair of the AHA Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee and associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and colleagues. In 2015, the committee shifted from 5-year updates to a continuous online review process, citing a need for more immediate implementation of practice-altering data, they wrote in Circulation.

And new approaches do appear to save lives, at least in a hospital setting.

Since 2004, in-hospital cardiac arrest outcomes have been improving, but similar gains have yet to be realized for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

"Much of the variation in survival rates is thought to be due to the strength of the Chain of Survival, the [five] critical actions that must occur in rapid succession to maximize the chance of survival from cardiac arrest," the committee wrote.

Update Adds Sixth Link to Chains of Survival: Recovery

"Recovery expectations and survivorship plans that address treatment, surveillance, and rehabilitation need to be provided to cardiac arrest survivors and their caregivers at hospital discharge to address the sequelae of cardiac arrest and optimize transitions of care to independent physical, social, emotional, and role function," the committee wrote.

Merchant and colleagues identified three "critically important" recommendations for both cardiac arrest survivors and caregivers during the recovery process: structured psychological assessment; multimodal rehabilitation assessment and treatment; and comprehensive, multidisciplinary discharge planning.

The recovery process is now part of all four Chains of Survival, which are specific to in-hospital and out-of-hospital arrest for adults and children.

New Advice on Opioid Overdoses and Bystander Training

Among instances of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, the committee noted that opioid overdoses are "sharply on the rise," leading to new, scenario-specific recommendations. Among them, the committee encouraged lay rescuers and trained responders to activate emergency response systems immediately while awaiting improvements with naloxone and other interventions. They also suggested that, for individuals in known or suspected cardiac arrest, high-quality CPR, including compressions and ventilation, should be prioritized over naloxone administration.

In a broader discussion, the committee identified disparities in CPR training, which could explain lower rates of bystander CPR and poorer outcomes among certain demographics, such as black and Hispanic populations, as well as those with lower socioeconomic status.

"Targeting training efforts should consider barriers such as language, financial considerations, and poor access to information," the committee wrote.

While low bystander CPR in these areas may be improved through mobile phone technology that alerts trained laypeople to individuals in need, the committee noted that this approach may be impacted by cultural and geographic factors. To date, use of mobile devices to improve bystander intervention rates has been demonstrated through "uniformly positive data," but never in North America.

According to the guidelines, bystander intervention rates may also be improved through video-based learning, which is as effective as in-person, instructor-led training.

This led the AHA to create an online adaptive learning platform, which the organization describes as a "digital resuscitation portfolio" that connects programs and courses such as the Resuscitation Quality Improvement program and the HeartCode blended learning course.

"It will cover all of the guideline changes," said Monica Sales, communications manager at the AHA. "It's really groundbreaking because it's the first time that we're able to kind of close that gap between new science and new products."

The online content also addresses CPR considerations for COVID-19, which were first addressed by interim CPR guidance published by the AHA in April.

According to Alexis Topjian, MD, coauthor of the present guidelines and pediatric critical care medicine physician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, CPR awareness is more important now than ever.

"The major message [of the guidelines] is that high-quality CPR saves lives," she said. "So push hard, and push fast. You have the power in your hands to make a difference, more so than ever during this pandemic."

Concerning coronavirus precautions, Topjian noted that roughly 70% of out-of-hospital CPR events involve people who know each other, so most bystanders have already been exposed to the person in need, thereby reducing the concern of infection.

When asked about performing CPR on strangers, Topjian remained encouraging, though she noted that decision making may be informed by local coronavirus rates.

"It's always a personal choice," she said.

More for Clinicians

For clinicians, Topjian highlighted several recommendations, including use of epinephrine as soon as possible during CPR, preferential use of a cuffed endotracheal tube, continuous EEG monitoring during and after cardiac arrest, and rapid intervention for clinical seizures and of nonconvulsive status epilepticus.

From a pediatric perspective, Topjian pointed out a change in breathing rate for infants and children who are receiving CPR or rescue breathing with a pulse, from 12-20 breaths/min to 20-30 breaths/min. While not a new recommendation, Topjian also pointed out the lifesaving benefit of early defibrillation among pediatric patients.

The guidelines were funded by the American Heart Association. The investigators disclosed additional relationships with BTG Pharmaceuticals, Zoll Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and others.

Circulation. 2020:142(Suppl 2): S337-S604.

This article originally appeared on MDEdge.com.

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