AHA Updates CPR Guidelines on Cardiac Arrest After Poisoning

3 Oct 2023 • The American Heart Association (AHA) has released a focused update on managing patients with cardiac arrest or life-threatening toxicity due to poisoning. The update reflects treatment advances and new knowledge, including the use of venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO) for patients whose condition is refractory to poison antidotes and other therapies.


  • First and foremost, the group recommends timely consultation with a medical toxicologist, a clinical toxicologist, or a regional poison center to facilitate rapid, effective therapy.
  • Naloxone administration may reverse respiratory arrest due to opioid overdose, preventing progression to cardiac arrest.
  • Give high-dose insulin therapy early in the treatment of patients with beta blocker and calcium channel blocker poisoning, Lavonas noted.
  • Standard advanced life support plus sodium bicarbonate is appropriate for life-threatening dysrhythmias caused by cocaine or other sodium channel blockers.
  • If cyanide poisoning is suspected, clinicians should not wait for confirmatory testing; treatment should begin immediately with hydroxocobalamin (preferred) or sodium nitrite plus sodium thiosulfate.
  • Digoxin-specific immune antibody fragments can reverse life-threatening dysrhythmias from digoxin poisoning.
  • Use of 20% intravenous lipid emulsion can be efficacious in the resuscitation of life-threatening local anesthetic toxicity, especially from bupivacaine, Lavonas indicated.
  • Sedation is recommended for patients with severe agitation from sympathomimetic poisoning to manage hyperthermia and acidosis, prevent rhabdomyolysis and injury, and allow evaluation for other life-threatening conditions.
  • Although flumazenil reverses central nervous system and respiratory depression from benzodiazepine poisoning, risks and contraindications, provided in the guidelines, limit its use.
  • VA-ECMO can be lifesaving for patients with cardiogenic shock or dysrhythmias that are refractory to other treatments.

Of the 73 guideline recommendations, only two are supported by level A evidence; three are supported by level B-randomized evidence, 12 by level B-nonrandomized evidence, and the rest by level C evidence.

Source: Medscape | Read full story

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