August 6, 2009

Cost Effective Cooling Therapy for Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac arrest, a condition in which the heart stops effectively pumping blood through the body, occurs in about 300,000 American adults annually. A cooling therapy for these unconscious cardiac arrest survivors may benefit both their body and their bank account.

The therapy known as therapeutic hypothermia regulates a patient's body temperature, cooling it to remain between 89.6 and 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 12 to 24 hours. Cooling blankets are the most common method used. "Therapeutic hypothermia is the only post-resuscitation therapy shown to improve both survival and reduce disability after cardiac arrest," lead author Raina M. Merchant, M.D., M.S., emergency medicine physician at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine was quoted as saying.

Therapeutic hypothermia has been recommended by the American Heart Association in 2003, and again in 2005 to treat unconscious patients with spontaneous circulation after an out of the hospital cardiac arrest. The technique has not been implemented as quickly as hoped. Thus, researchers took cost into account.

Researchers measured quality-adjusted survival after cardiac arrest, cost of hypothermia treatment, post-hospital costs, and incremental cost effectiveness ratios. "We showed that hypothermia is a good value for the cost," Merchant was quoted as saying. "The cost effectiveness is consistent with many widely accepted healthcare interventions."

SOURCE: Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, 2009