Cardiac arrest is considered to have occurred when the heart is unable to provide sufficient output to sustain life. Essentially, therefore, cardiac arrest results from ventricular asystole, ventricular fibrillation, or downward displacement of the pacemaker with ineffectual ventricular systole. Each mechanism of arrest requires accurate diagnosis because each necessitates a specific treatment. Positive diagnosis can only be made from an electrocardiographic signal.
The specific treatment of ventricular asystole or standstill is electrical pacemaking, of ventricular fibrillation the treatment is electrical defibrillation, while there is no means yet available specifically to reverse the lack of ventricular function due to a downward displacement of the pacemaker.
When prompt specific and supportive therapy is utilized, the outlook in ventricular asystole and ventricular fibrillation is relatively favorable, while in downward displacement of the pacemaker, it is poor.
Until recently, to resuscitate or not has been the source of considerable controversy. Some physicians
Corday E, Vyden JK. Resuscitation After Myocardial Infarction: A Clinical Appraisal. JAMA. 1967;200(9):781–784. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120220083015
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