Lactic acidosis as a predictor of downtime during cardiopulmonary arrest in dogs

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      Studies have shown that over 50% of cardiovascular deaths occur before hospitalization. A major factor associated with survival in cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is the time from cardiovascular collapse to the initiation of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or “downtime.” The purpose of this study was to determine whether blood lactate levels could be used to predict downtime in the canine cardiac arrest model. Femoral arterial and Swan-Ganz catheters were placed in 22 mongrel dogs, and ventricular fibrillation was electrically induced. The dogs remained in ventricular fibrillation without ventilation for 5, 10, 15, 30, or 60 minutes. After the predetermined fibrillation time, a left anterolateral thoracotomy was performed, and open-chest cardiac massage was begun. Arterial and mixed venous lactate levels were determined for every 5 minutes during 30 minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The correlation coefficient between the mixed venous and arterial lactate levels was 0.96 or greater during all stages of resuscitation. Peak serum lactate level increased linearly in relation to downtime. The increase in lactate level was not evident until after CPR was begun, and it remained at peak levels or decreased insignificantly, despite optimal open-chest CPR. Linear regression analysis revealed that 84% of the variability in serum lactate levels could be explained by downtime differences. In this model, blood lactate level is a reliable and objective measure of downtime and may be a useful indicator of the adequacy of CPR if levels decrease or remain stable. The clinical implications of this study lie with the use of blood lactate levels in the emergency department to guide the aggressiveness of resuscitative efforts.


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