MAR 24, 2018 2:10 PM PDT

Cardiac Arrest Survivors Should Have Heart and Brain Tested

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Of the 25 percent of people who survive in-hospital cardiac arrests and 12 percent of people who survive out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, many will unknowingly be discharged from the hospital with cognitive problems in their future. In a new study from the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, scientists recommend that all cardiac arrest survivors be tested for neuropsychological problems before being discharged.

Even if they seem “neurologically intact” before being discharged, cardiac arrest survivors often develop memory and cognitive problems in the months or years following the event. "These people may go home and think they are neurologically fine, but then they realize things have changed and they may not be able to do their job, and it can be difficult for them to figure out where to seek help,” explained first author Dr. Vess Stamenova.

Cardiac arrest is an “electrical problem” in the heart, characterized by a sudden loss of a heartbeat, often a result of an irregular heartbeat, or an arrhythmia. Cardiac arrest can result in death in just a few minutes. Every minute after cardiac arrest occurs where the affected individual is not attended to is linked to a ten percent decrease in survival. Plus, as the current study points out, survivors of cardiac arrest are at risk of brain damage.

Researchers conducted a study with 18 individuals who had either a heart attack or brief cardiac arrest, giving them neuropsychological assessments and taking brain images. This study is the first to take brain images of short cardiac arrest survivors. Each study participant was evaluated between two and four years after their incident.

The study scientists found that some cardiac arrest survivors left the hospital seemingly fine, only to develop memory problems later. Specifically, researchers saw a 10-20 percent reduction in the size of the hippocampus, region of the brain responsible for keeping memories. This part of the brain is particularly sensitive to a lack of oxygen.

The solution, researchers conclude, is to develop comprehensive neuropsychology testing as a standard precaution for every cardiac arrest patient before they leave the hospital. This would allow medical professionals to diagnose any problems as soon as possible so the patient can receive appropriate and timely treatment.

"Identifying patients at risk will allow cardiac arrest survivors to have appropriate recommendations for rehabilitation before they are discharged," Stamenova said.

Overall, Stamenova and others involved in the study are focused on improving long-term quality of life for cardiac arrest survivors.

The present study was published in the journal Resuscitation.

Sources: American Heart Association, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 16, 2019
Health & Medicine
JUL 16, 2019
Rare Bone Marrow Manifestation in Sarcoidosis
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease with the hallmark diagnostic feature being non-caseating granulomas--clumps of immune cells including macr...
SEP 17, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
SEP 17, 2019
An All-Inclusive Genetic Testing Made Easy for the Prospective Parents
An increasing number of parents are opting their babies in for at-home genetic testing. These at-home ...
SEP 20, 2019
Neuroscience
SEP 20, 2019
The brain of a psychopath: how people with psychopathic traits control their 'dark urges'
Psychopaths are usually portrayed negatively: they display antisocial behavior, such as shallow emotions, callousness, impulsivity, and lack of empathy. Ps...
SEP 26, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
SEP 26, 2019
Arthritis Foundation Gives Cautious Thumbs Up for CBD Use
After a national survey in July confirmed that the vast majority of arthritis patients were either interested in using CBD for symptom relief or already us...
NOV 20, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
NOV 20, 2019
New diagnostic technology seeks out cancer DNA in blood
For many cancers, early detection has a tremendous impact on patient outcomes. Yet, sadly, many of the most common malignancies, like those of the stomach,...
DEC 22, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
DEC 22, 2019
Can Google Health's AI interpret X-rays as well as radiologists?
Patients presenting with severe coughs, chest pain or suspected infections are more than likely to be sent for a chest X-ray -- the most commonly taken med...
Loading Comments...