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      Antiarrhythmic drugs in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: is there a place for potassium chloride?


      Critical Care

      BioMed Central

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          In the March 2017 issue of Critical Care, Tagami et al. [1] emphasized that amiodarone, lidocaine, and nifekalant similarly improve survival at hospital admission for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) patients due to refractory ventricular fibrillation (VF). However, neither amiodarone nor lidocaine has been shown to improve long-term survival or neurologic recovery [2]. During resuscitation, the main objective of cardiopulmonary resuscitation is to maintain blood flow pending etiological treatment, and to try and restore sinus rhythm [3]. Antiarrhythmic drugs work on sodium, calcium, and/or potassium channels, and therefore modify the defibrillation threshold [1]. Amiodarone induces a prolonged hypotension, this effect being mainly linked to its solvent, whereas lidocaine causes a concentration-dependent increase in defibrillation energy requirements and a negative inotropic effect. However, according to current guidelines, antiarrhythmic drugs should be administered during the metabolic phase of cardiac arrest, which is paradoxically the most unfavorable phase for their efficiency [3]. Potassium chloride (KCl) is the major component of cardioplegia solutions used to arrest the heart during cardiac surgery under extracorporeal life support (ECLS). This effect is fully reversible, enabling return of spontaneous circulation after its administration. Twenty-five years ago, Beyersdorf et al. [4] observed that administration of a high-potassium solution could salvage cardiac arrest patients due to an irreversible VF. This report suggested that KCl injection could be an alternative to conventional antiarrhythmic drugs during the metabolic phase of cardiac arrest due to irreversible VF. As evidence, direct intravenous KCl injection was recently shown efficient to stop refractory VF in a patient under continuous ECLS: a few minutes after KCl administration, the heart recovered a hemodynamically efficient normal sinus rhythm [5]. In cardiac arrest due to refractory VF, the proposition of direct intravenous KCl injection can primarily be surprising, because there is a suspected ischemia–reperfusion syndrome with metabolic acidosis and thus hyperkalemia, underlying the use of the pure potassium blocker nifekalant [1]. Conversely, we must keep in mind that medical resuscitation using a beta-agonist drug (epinephrine) and sodium bicarbonate can induce transfer hypokalemia. Moreover, the latter can be deleterious on membrane stabilization, and can consecutively sustain ventricular dysrhythmia. Elsewhere, unlike amiodarone or lidocaine, KCl administration is not responsible for a persistent negative inotropic effect. Investigating the efficacy of direct intravenous KCl injection for OHCA due to irreversible VF seems therefore to be a relevant research pathway, to define the potential benefit of this treatment in the therapeutic strategy as compared with conventional antiarrhythmic drugs.

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          Most cited references 5

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          European Resuscitation Council Guidelines for Resuscitation 2015: Section 3. Adult advanced life support.

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            Amiodarone, Lidocaine, or Placebo in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest.

            Antiarrhythmic drugs are used commonly in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest for shock-refractory ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia, but without proven survival benefit.
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              Antiarrhythmic drugs for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest with refractory ventricular fibrillation

              This article is one of ten reviews selected from the Annual Update in Intensive Care and Emergency medicine 2017. Other selected articles can be found online at http://ccforum.com/series/annualupdate2017. Further information about the Annual Update in Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine is available from http://www.springer.com/series/8901.

                Author and article information

                Crit Care
                Critical Care
                BioMed Central (London )
                17 June 2017
                17 June 2017
                : 21
                ISNI 0000 0004 0593 9113, GRID grid.412134.1, , SAMU de Paris, Service d’Anesthésie Réanimation, Hôpital Necker—Enfants Malades, Assistance Publique—Hôpitaux de Paris, and Université Paris Descartes—Paris 5, ; Paris, France
                © The Author(s). 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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                Emergency medicine & Trauma


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