The 9 year study in 4 000 people shows that most of the patients who survive out-of-hospital cardiac arrest go on to live active lives. Dr Søholm said: “People over 80 years of age, also called octogenarians, do not survive quite as often as younger people after a cardiac arrest in the streets. But the findings of our study from the Copenhagen area show that most octogenarians who do survive are able to live an active life after the incident.”
She added: “Therefore the conclusion for the public and the medical profession is that refraining from resuscitating older people in general is wrong. You may still be able to live a full life as an old person despite having a cardiac arrest.”
Over a 9 year period (2002 – 2011) the study included all patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in Copenhagen who were treated by the physician-based emergency medical systems. Close to 4 000 people suffered from a cardiac arrest during the study period and a quarter of those were octogenarians.
In patients who were successfully resuscitated and alive at hospital admission, 19% of octogenarians were alive 30 days later compared to 45% of younger patients. The majority of patients had sufficient function for carrying out independent daily activities, with 75% of octogenarians and 85% of younger patients discharged with a high functional status.
Dr Søholm said: “Being an octogenarian is undoubtedly associated with a lower survival rate after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, but the majority of the older survivors were discharged with a high functional status and were able to carry out daily activities independently.”
She concluded: “Refraining from resuscitating older people in general does not seem justified.”
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