In-hospital heart attack patients often defibrillated after 2 minutes

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 21, 2008

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A sizeable proportion of patients who go into cardiac arrest in the hospital are defibrillated later than recommended, and this increases their risk of dying or developing neurologic or functional problems, according to a study in the Jan. 3 New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers analyzed data from the American Heart Assn.'s National Registry of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. Patients were defibrillated on average within a minute. But more than 30% of patients had this done outside of the recommended two-minute window. African-Americans, those admitted for a medical complaint not related to the heart, and patients at hospitals with fewer than 250 beds were all at increased risk of delayed defibrillation.

Slightly more than 39% of people who were defibrillated in less than two minutes survived, but only 22% of those who received this treatment late did so. The authors wrote that these data support the concept that timely defibrillation is critical for patient health and survival.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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