Improved survival with modified CPR

A large randomised controlled trial1 on out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients compared standard CPR with CPR augmented by two modifications:

  • active compression-decompression using a hand-held suction device to compress the chest. The device is attached to the chest of the patient during CPR and the rescuer actively lifts the chest upwards after each compression, which are done at a rate of 80/min
  • augmented negative intrathoracic pressure using an impedance threshold device, which is a valve that limits passive air entry into the lungs during chest compressions, thereby reducing intrathoracic pressure and increasing blood flow to vital organs

The primary study endpoint was survival to hospital discharge with favourable neurological function.

Funding issues resulted in premature cessation of the study. 47 (6%) of 813 controls survived to hospital discharge with favourable neurological function compared with 75 (9%) of 840 patients in the intervention group (odds ratio 1·58, 95% CI 1·07–2·36; p=0·019]. 74 (9%) of 840 patients survived to 1 year in the intervention group compared with 48 (6%) of 813 controls (p=0·03), with equivalent cognitive skills, disability ratings, and emotional-psychological statuses in both groups. The overall major adverse event rate did not differ between groups, but more patients had pulmonary oedema in the intervention group (94 [11%] of 840) than did controls (62 [7%] of 813; p=0·015).

An accompanying editorial2 points out that previous studies in animal models of cardiac arrest gave reassuring results for both devices individually and when used together, but results from clinical trials in patients have been mixed for each device when used individually:

  • For compression-decompression CPR, a systematic review pooled the existing data for such CPR versus standard CPR in 4162 patients and found no difference in short-term mortality (relative risk 0·98, 95% CI 0·94–1·03) or survival to hospital discharge (0·99, 0·98–1·01). The 2010 CPR guidelines for the USA and Europe do not recommend the use of compression–decompression CPR alone.
  • The most current systematic review for the impedance-threshold device showed a significantly improved early survival (relative risk 1·45, 1·16–1·80), and a short-term improved neurological outcome (2·35, 1·30–4·24); however, improved long- term survival did not reach conventional statistical significance (1·48, 0·91–2·41).

The Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium (ROC) PRIMED study3 showed no survival benefit in 8718 patients randomised to standard CPR with an active or sham impedance-threshold device (the Consortium includes the same investigators as the Lancet paper). This was published as an abstract in Circulation recently.

The editorialist has reservations regarding a change in clinical practice resulting from this new study, partly because the trial was stopped prematurely and enrolment of a larger cohort could have changed the findings, and partly because the open use of both devices might have unintentionally introduced bias into the study. Further validation is recommended.

1. Standard cardiopulmonary resuscitation versus active compression-decompression cardiopulmonary resuscitation with augmentation of negative intrathoracic pressure for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: a randomised trial
Lancet 2011;377:301-11

2. Augmented CPR: rescue after the ResQ trial
Lancet. 2011 Jan 22;377:276-7

3. The Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium ROC) PRIMED Impedance Threshold Device (ITD) Cardiac Arrest Trial: A Prospective, Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Clinical Trial
Circulation 2010; 122: 2215–26 (abstr)