There are plenty who … claim to be competent at intubation even though their last intubation was months ago on the third attempt and if the patient had not already been dead – that would have finished the patient off …

- Rogue Medic

The PROCAMIO Trial – IV Procainamide vs IV Amiodarone for the Acute Treatment of Stable Wide Complex Tachycardia

ResearchBlogging.org
 

This is a very interesting trial that may surprise the many outspoken amiodarone advocates, but it should not surprise anyone who pays attention to research.

ALPS showed that we should stop giving amiodarone for unwitnessed shockable cardiac arrest. The lead researcher is still trying to spin amiodarone for witnessed shockable cardiac arrest, even though the results do not show improvement in the one outcome that matters – leaving the hospital with a brain that still works.[1],[2],[3]

There is an excellent discussion of the study on the podcast by Dr. Salim Rezaie and Dr. Anand Swaminathan REBELCast: The PROCAMIO Trial – IV Procainamide vs IV Amiodarone for the Acute Treatment of Stable Wide Complex Tachycardia.

One problem with the study that they do not address on the podcast is that the patients in the study appear to have had time to watch Casablanca before treatment started. Here’s looking at you, while we’re waiting, kid. This is apparently unintentional one way of doing a placebo washout. If we wait long enough . . . .
 

Time from arrival to start of infusion was 87 ± 21 min for procainamide and 115 ± 36 min for amiodarone patients (P = 0.58).[4]

 

If nothing else, this demonstrates how little we need to worry about immediately pushing drugs for stable monomorphic VT (V Tach or Ventricular Tachycardia). Should we expect much from antiarrhythmic treatment?

Research shows that for stable monomorphic VT (V Tach or Ventricular Tachycardia) amiodarone is not very likely to be followed by an improvement. Only 29%[5] or only 25%[6] or only 15% within 20 minutes, but if we don’t mind waiting an hour it can be as much as 29%.[7] For those of you who are not good at math, that means amiodarone is about the same as doing nothing, only it comes in a syringe. Even though these poor outcomes ignore the side effects, they are the best evidence in favor of amiodarone, so what Kool-Aid are the advocates drinking?

Adenosine, yes adenosine the SVT (SupraVentricular Tachycardia) drug, appears to be more effective at treating ventricular tachycardia than amiodarone – and adenosine is faster and safer than amiodarone.[8]

What if the patient becomes unstable? First start an IV (IntraVenous) line. Then sedate the patient. Then apply defibrillator pads. After the patient is adequately sedated, then cardiovert. We do not need the pads on the patient first. If it takes a while to put the pads on, that is a problem with the ability of the doctors and nurses, not a medical problem.

It does not appear as if any patient received amiodarone or procainamide until after waiting in the ED (Emergency Department) for over an hour. Were some patients cardioverted in well under an hour? Probably. The important consideration is that the doctors and nurses be able to apply the defibrillator pads properly and quickly and deliver a synchronized cardioversion in less than a minute. If the patient has not yet been sedated, the cardioversion should be delayed until after the patient is adequately sedated, so the intervention that depends most on time is the sedation of the patient.
 

VT + Amiodarone Cardioversion
 

Is there a better treatment than amiodarone? Sedate the patient before the patient becomes unstable, then cardiovert. How do the MACEs (Major Adverse Cardiac Events) compare with sedation and cardioversion vs. antiarrhythmic treatment.
 

5.4 Proarrhythmia
Amiodarone may cause a worsening of existing arrhythmias or precipitate a new arrhythmia. Proarrhythmia, primarily torsade de pointes (TdP), has been associated with prolongation, by intravenous amiodarone, of the QTc interval to 500 ms or greater. Although QTc prolongation occurred frequently in patients receiving intravenous amiodarone, TdP or new-onset VF occurred infrequently (less than 2%). Monitor patients for QTc prolongation during infusion with amiodarone. Reserve the combination of amiodarone with other antiarrhythmic therapies that prolong the QTc to patients with life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias who are incompletely responsive to a single agent.
[9]

 

All antiarrhythmic drugs can cause arrhythmias. In the absence of information about a specific problem that is best addressed by a specific drug (amiodarone is the opposite of specific), we should avoid treatments that have such a high potential for harm.

Amiodarone doesn’t even do a good job of preventing arrhythmias.
 

Intravenous amiodarone did not prevent induction of sustained ventricular tachycardia in any of five patients inducible at baseline. Of six patients with non-sustained ventricular tachycardia, five had sustained ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation induced after amiodarone infusion.[10]

 

Is anything worse than amiodarone? Even epinephrine, yes epinephrine the inadequately tested cardiac arrest drug, has been followed by improved outcomes from V Tach after amiodarone failed.[11]
 

What is best for the patient?

Sedation, search for reversible causes, apply defibrillator pads, and be prepared to cardiovert.

Maybe sedation isn’t that important? This is by Dr. Peter Kowey, one of the top cardiologists in the world.
 

The man’s very first utterance was, “If it happens again, just let me die.”

As I discovered, the reason for this patient’s terror was that he had been cardioverted in an awake state. Ventricular tachycardia had been relatively slow, he had not lost consciousness, and the physicians, in the heat of the moment, had not administered adequate anesthesia. Although the 5 mg of intravenous diazepam had made him a bit drowsy, he felt the electric current on his chest and remembered the event clearly.

The patient’s mental state complicated the case considerably.[12]

 

How unimportant is sedation? How unimportant is consent?

For sedation, I would recommend ketamine, but etomidate was recommended in the podcast. Both work quickly and the most important obstacle to immediate treatment of a patient who suddenly deteriorates is the time to effect of sedation. Neither drug is expected to interfere with perfusion, which is the main excuse given for avoiding sedation for cardioversion.

This study is very small (not the fault of the authors), but it adds to the evidence that amiodarone is not a good first treatment for the patient.
 

Go listen to the podcast by Dr. Salim Rezaie and Dr. Anand Swaminathan REBELCast: The PROCAMIO Trial – IV Procainamide vs IV Amiodarone for the Acute Treatment of Stable Wide Complex Tachycardia

 

Over the years, I have written a bit about cardioversion and the importance of sedation –

Cardioversion – I’m not doing that, you do it! – Mon, 24 Mar 2008

Cardioversion – 2010 ACLS – Part I – Mon, 25 Oct 2010

Cardioversion – 2010 ACLS – Part II – Sun, 31 Oct 2010

Cardioversion – 2010 ACLS – Part III – Thu, 11 Nov 2010

On the relative wisdom of synchronized cardioversion without sedation – Part I – Thu, 11 Nov 2010

On the relative wisdom of synchronized cardioversion without sedation – Part II – Fri, 12 Nov 2010

Synchronized Cardioversion Without Sedation – Part II Scallywag’s Response – Sun, 14 Nov 2010

On the relative wisdom of synchronized cardioversion without sedation – Part III – Tue, 16 Nov 2010

On the relative wisdom of synchronized cardioversion without sedation – Part IV – Wed, 24 Nov 2010

Comments on Cardioversion – 2010 ACLS – Part II – Mon, 16 Apr 2012
 

I have also written a bit about amiodarone –

Merit Badge Courses, Amiodarone, and tPA – Fri, 17 Sep 2010

Amiodarone for Cardiac Arrest in the 2010 ACLS – Part I – Wed, 01 Dec 2010

Amiodarone for Cardiac Arrest in the 2010 ACLS – Part II – Fri, 03 Dec 2010

Is Nexterone the Next Amiodarone? – Sat, 04 Dec 2010

Amiodarone for Cardiac Arrest in the 2010 ACLS – Part III – Mon, 06 Dec 2010

Where are the Black Box Warnings on These Drugs – I – Mon, 05 Dec 2011

Where are the Black Box Warnings on These Drugs – II – Sun, 11 Dec 2011

Is Amiodarone the Best Drug for Stable Ventricular Tachycardia – Wed, 14 Dec 2011

V Tach Storm – Part I – Wed, 28 Dec 2011

V Tach Storm – Part II – Thu, 29 Dec 2011

Nifekalant versus lidocaine for in-hospital shock-resistant ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia – Wed, 04 Jan 2012

NIH launches trials to evaluate CPR and drugs after sudden cardiac arrest – Sun, 29 Jan 2012

What Will Be the Next Standard Of Care We Eliminate – Wed, 28 Mar 2012

Happy Adenosine Day – Tue, 12 Jun 2012

Too Much Medicine and Evidence-Based Guidelines – Part I – Tue, 26 Jun 2012

Too Much Medicine and Evidence-Based Guidelines – Part II – Tue, 03 Jul 2012

Ondansetron (Zofran) Warning for QT Prolongation – is Amiodarone next? – Part I – Mon, 02 Jul 2012

Ondansetron (Zofran) Warning for QT Prolongation – is Amiodarone next? – Part II – Thu, 05 Jul 2012

Wide variability in drug use in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: A report from the resuscitation outcomes consortium – Part I – Mon, 17 Sep 2012

Wide variability in drug use in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: A report from the resuscitation outcomes consortium – Part II – Tue, 18 Sep 2012

How do we measure the QT segment when there are prominent U waves? – Thu, 13 Dec 2012

Woman with Risks for Torsades de Pointes Dying within Hours of Leaving the Emergency Department – Wed, 02 Jan 2013

Examples of Ventricular Tachycardia Caused by Amiodarone – Part I – Tue, 28 May 2013

Publication Bias – The Lit Whisperers – Tue, 11 Jun 2013

Standards Of Care – Ventricular Tachycardia – Wed, 31 Jul 2013

Footnotes:

[1] Dr. Kudenchuk is Misrepresenting ALPS as ‘Significant’
Tue, 12 Apr 2016
Rogue Medic
Article

[2] Amiodarone, Lidocaine, or Placebo in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest
Mon, 04 Apr 2016
Rogue Medic
Article

[3] Amiodarone, Lidocaine, or Placebo in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest.
Kudenchuk PJ, Brown SP, Daya M, Rea T, Nichol G, Morrison LJ, Leroux B, Vaillancourt C, Wittwer L, Callaway CW, Christenson J, Egan D, Ornato JP, Weisfeldt ML, Stiell IG, Idris AH, Aufderheide TP, Dunford JV, Colella MR, Vilke GM, Brienza AM, Desvigne-Nickens P, Gray PC, Gray R, Seals N, Straight R, Dorian P; Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium Investigators.
N Engl J Med. 2016 May 5;374(18):1711-22. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1514204. Epub 2016 Apr 4.
PMID: 27043165

CONCLUSIONS
Overall, neither amiodarone nor lidocaine resulted in a significantly higher rate of survival or favorable neurologic outcome than the rate with placebo among patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest due to initial shock-refractory ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia.

[4] Randomized comparison of intravenous procainamide vs. intravenous amiodarone for the acute treatment of tolerated wide QRS tachycardia: the PROCAMIO study.
Ortiz M, Martín A, Arribas F, Coll-Vinent B, Del Arco C, Peinado R, Almendral J; PROCAMIO Study Investigators.
Eur Heart J. 2016 Jun 28. pii: ehw230. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 27354046

Free Full Text from European Heart Journal.

[5] Amiodarone or procainamide for the termination of sustained stable ventricular tachycardia: an historical multicenter comparison.
Marill KA, deSouza IS, Nishijima DK, Senecal EL, Setnik GS, Stair TO, Ruskin JN, Ellinor PT.
Acad Emerg Med. 2010 Mar;17(3):297-306.
PMID: 20370763 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from Academic Emergency Medicine.

[6] Amiodarone is poorly effective for the acute termination of ventricular tachycardia.
Marill KA, deSouza IS, Nishijima DK, Stair TO, Setnik GS, Ruskin JN.
Ann Emerg Med. 2006 Mar;47(3):217-24. Epub 2005 Nov 21.
PMID: 16492484 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

[7] Intravenous amiodarone for the pharmacological termination of haemodynamically-tolerated sustained ventricular tachycardia: is bolus dose amiodarone an appropriate first-line treatment?
Tomlinson DR, Cherian P, Betts TR, Bashir Y.
Emerg Med J. 2008 Jan;25(1):15-8.
PMID: 18156531 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

[8] Adenosine for wide-complex tachycardia – diagnostic?
Thu, 23 Aug 2012
Rogue Medic
Article

[9] AMIODARONE HYDROCHLORIDE- amiodarone hydrochloride injection, solution
DailyMed
5 WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS
FDA Label

[10] Effects of intravenous amiodarone on ventricular refractoriness, intraventricular conduction, and ventricular tachycardia induction.
Kułakowski P, Karczmarewicz S, Karpiński G, Soszyńska M, Ceremuzyński L.
Europace. 2000 Jul;2(3):207-15.
PMID: 11227590 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text PDF + HTML from Europace

[11] Low doses of intravenous epinephrine for refractory sustained monomorphic ventricular tachycardia.
Bonny A, De Sisti A, Márquez MF, Megbemado R, Hidden-Lucet F, Fontaine G.
World J Cardiol. 2012 Oct 26;4(10):296-301. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v4.i10.296.
PMID: 23110246 [PubMed]

Free Full Text from PubMed Central.

[12] The calamity of cardioversion of conscious patients.
Kowey PR.
Am J Cardiol. 1988 May 1;61(13):1106-7. No abstract available.
PMID: 3364364

Kudenchuk PJ, Brown SP, Daya M, Rea T, Nichol G, Morrison LJ, Leroux B, Vaillancourt C, Wittwer L, Callaway CW, Christenson J, Egan D, Ornato JP, Weisfeldt ML, Stiell IG, Idris AH, Aufderheide TP, Dunford JV, Colella MR, Vilke GM, Brienza AM, Desvigne-Nickens P, Gray PC, Gray R, Seals N, Straight R, Dorian P, & Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium Investigators (2016). Amiodarone, Lidocaine, or Placebo in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest. The New England journal of medicine, 374 (18), 1711-22 PMID: 27043165

Ortiz M, Martín A, Arribas F, Coll-Vinent B, Del Arco C, Peinado R, Almendral J, & PROCAMIO Study Investigators (2016). Randomized comparison of intravenous procainamide vs. intravenous amiodarone for the acute treatment of tolerated wide QRS tachycardia: the PROCAMIO study. European heart journal PMID: 27354046

Marill KA, deSouza IS, Nishijima DK, Senecal EL, Setnik GS, Stair TO, Ruskin JN, & Ellinor PT (2010). Amiodarone or procainamide for the termination of sustained stable ventricular tachycardia: an historical multicenter comparison. Academic emergency medicine : official journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, 17 (3), 297-306 PMID: 20370763

Marill KA, deSouza IS, Nishijima DK, Stair TO, Setnik GS, & Ruskin JN (2006). Amiodarone is poorly effective for the acute termination of ventricular tachycardia. Annals of emergency medicine, 47 (3), 217-24 PMID: 16492484

Tomlinson DR, Cherian P, Betts TR, & Bashir Y (2008). Intravenous amiodarone for the pharmacological termination of haemodynamically-tolerated sustained ventricular tachycardia: is bolus dose amiodarone an appropriate first-line treatment? Emergency medicine journal : EMJ, 25 (1), 15-8 PMID: 18156531

Kułakowski P, Karczmarewicz S, Karpiński G, Soszyńska M, & Ceremuzyński L (2000). Effects of intravenous amiodarone on ventricular refractoriness, intraventricular conduction, and ventricular tachycardia induction. Europace : European pacing, arrhythmias, and cardiac electrophysiology : journal of the working groups on cardiac pacing, arrhythmias, and cardiac cellular electrophysiology of the European Society of Cardiology, 2 (3), 207-15 PMID: 11227590

Bonny A, De Sisti A, Márquez MF, Megbemado R, Hidden-Lucet F, & Fontaine G (2012). Low doses of intravenous epinephrine for refractory sustained monomorphic ventricular tachycardia. World journal of cardiology, 4 (10), 296-301 PMID: 23110246

Kowey PR (1988). The calamity of cardioversion of conscious patients. The American journal of cardiology, 61 (13), 1106-7 PMID: 3364364

.

Dr. Kudenchuk is Misrepresenting ALPS as ‘Significant’

ResearchBlogging.org
 

The results of ALPS (Amiodarone, Lidocaine, Placebo Study) are clear. There is no statistically significant difference in cardiac arrest outcomes with amiodarone or lidocaine, when compared with placebo.
 

Conclusions Overall, neither amiodarone nor lidocaine resulted in a significantly higher rate of survival or favorable neurologic outcome than the rate with placebo among patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest due to initial shock-refractory ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia.[1]

 

This study was very well done, but it was not designed to provide valid information about the effects of amiodarone or lidocaine on witnessed arrests or on EMS Witnessed arrests. Maybe the authors were overconfident.

In resuscitation research, we have abundant evidence that overconfidence is much more common than improvements in outcomes. There is no study that has shown an improvement in neurologically intact survival to discharge with any drug. Leaving the hospital with a working brain is the result that matters most to patients. We give drugs because we have too much confidence in the drugs and we are treating our confidence, not because we are doing anything to benefit the patients.
 

I WANT TO BE DECEIVED version of Domenichino, Virgin and Unicorn 1 copy
 

In ALPS there was a subgroup that might have reached statistical significance, but the researchers never determined what would be statistically significant when setting up the study, so these results are merely post hoc data mining (fitting the numbers to allow for a positive spin).

This is the Texas sharpshooter fallacy. The Texas sharpshooter shoots at the side of a barn, then draws targets around the bullet holes so that the the bullet holes are in the bull’s eyes.
 


 

The Texas sharpshooter didn’t shoot at any target, but he went back later and made it look like he hit the center of the target, because he drew the target around the bullet holes. Science requires that we state our hypotheses ahead of time, so that scientists are kept honest. Science requires that we calculate statistical significance ahead of time, especially for secondary outcomes/subgroup analysis, which may mean decreasing the p value to less than 0.03, or to less than 0.01, or even lower to reach statistical significance, so that scientists are kept honest. You are not permitted to bet on the outcome of a horse race that is already in progress for the same reason.

Why do we need to keep scientists honest? Because, as Dr. Peter Kudenchuk unintentionally demonstrates, scientists are just as biased as everyone else. Scientists need to follow the rules of science to minimize the influence of prejudices, such as overconfidence. When scientists do not follow these rules, they are just as easily fooled as everyone else and they may use that self-delusion, and their reputation, to fool others. Dr. Oz makes a fortune telling people what they want to hear about treatments that do not work.

I don’t claim that Dr. Kudenchuk, or even Dr. Oz, is deliberately fooling others, only that they have fooled themselves and are trying to convince others that their prejudices are accurate representations of reality. Here is what Dr. Kudenchuk has been telling people –
 

Researchers have confirmed that certain heart rhythm medications, when given by paramedics to patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest who had failed electrical shock treatment, improved likelihood of patients surviving transport to the hospital.[2]

 

The researchers have not confirmed any such thing.

If Dr. Kudenchuk wants to study whether amiodarone or lidocaine or both improve outcomes for witnessed cardiac arrest patients, or for EMS witnessed cardiac arrest patients, he needs to set up a study with all of the criteria for a positive result specified before the start of the study, because this study did not. The study explicitly states this, so Dr. Kudenchuk should be able to just read the study and see that he is wrong. Here is another statement that contradicts the information that was published.
 

Two groups of patients were pre-specified by the study as likely to respond differently to treatment: those with a witnessed cardiac arrest and those with an unwitnessed arrest. When it was originally designed, the study predicted that because patients with witnessed cardiac arrest are recognized and treated sooner, they would more likely be responsive to effective treatments than unwitnessed arrests. When first discovered, patients with an unwitnessed arrest are more likely to have already sustained irreversible organ damage resulting from a longer “down time” and less likely to respond to any treatment. This is precisely what was seen in the study – a statistically significant 5% improvement in survival to hospital discharge in witnessed arrests, and no effect from the drugs in unwitnessed arrests.[3]

 

Why does the published version of the paper contradict Dr. Kudenchuk? One of our biases is to remember things differently from the way things really happened. This is why eyewitness testimony is so often wrong. Here is what the published paper states about the witnessed arrest results.
 

We observed an interaction of treatment with the witnessed status of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, which is often taken as a surrogate for early recognition of cardiac arrest, a short interval between the patient’s collapse from cardiac arrest and the initiation of treatment, and a greater likelihood of therapeutic responsiveness. Though prespecified, this subgroup analysis was performed in the context of an insignificant difference for the overall analysis, and the P value for heterogeneity in this subgroup analysis was not adjusted for the number of subgroup comparisons. Nonetheless, the suggestion that survival was improved by drug treatment in patients with witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, without evidence of harm in those with unwitnessed arrest, merits thoughtful consideration.[1]

 

The authors did not adjust the p value, so the authors do not claim that the witnessed cardiac arrest results are statistically significant. They only state that these results merit thoughtful consideration. In other words, if we want to claim this hypothesis is true, we need to set up a study to actually examine this hypothesis.

One earlier study (also by ROC – the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium) even has similar results.[4],[5] These results are also not statistically significant, but suggest that with larger numbers the results might be significant. So why did the authors set up such a small study? Overconfidence and an apparent lack of familiarity with their own research.
 


 

The Seattle phenomenon (they claim that their resuscitation rate is the highest in America) seems to be due to excellent bystander CPR rates (apparently the highest in America), but that is only good enough for them to be experts on improving bystander CPR rates. The rest is probably due to defibrillation and chest compressions, which are the only prehospital interventions demonstrated to improve neurologically intact survival.

Why does a bystander CPR specialist focus on drugs? Overconfidence and an apparent lack of understanding of the resuscitation research. Dr. Kudenchuk preaches like Timothy Leary about the benefits of drugs and with just as little evidence. We should give appropriate credit for Dr. Kudenchuk’s work on CPR, but we should not mistake that for a thorough understanding of the resuscitation research, even the research with his name attached.
 

A new podcast reviews ALPS. Dominick Walenczak does not notice the mistakes of Dr. Kudenchuk, but he is not one of the researchers, so that is easy to overlook. The rest of the podcast is excellent. Listen to it here.
 

Episode 8: Conquering the ALPS (Study)
CritMedic – Critical Care Paramedicine Podcast
Dominick Walenczak
April 7, 2016
Podcast page
 

Footnotes:

[1] Amiodarone, Lidocaine, or Placebo in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest.
Kudenchuk PJ, Brown SP, Daya M, Rea T, Nichol G, Morrison LJ, Leroux B, Vaillancourt C, Wittwer L, Callaway CW, Christenson J, Egan D, Ornato JP, Weisfeldt ML, Stiell IG, Idris AH, Aufderheide TP, Dunford JV, Colella MR, Vilke GM, Brienza AM, Desvigne-Nickens P, Gray PC, Gray R, Seals N, Straight R, Dorian P; Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium Investigators.
N Engl J Med. 2016 Apr 4. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 27043165

Free Full Text from NEJM

[2] Antiarrhythmic drugs found beneficial when used by EMS treating cardiac arrest
Press release
For Immediate Release:April 4, 2016
NHLBI (National Heart Lung and Blood Institute)
Press release

[3] Dr. Kudenchuk: Study reveals exciting news about cardiac arrest treatment
Lindsay Bosslet
18 hours ago
Public Health Insider
Article

[4] Wide variability in drug use in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: A report from the resuscitation outcomes consortium.
Glover BM, Brown SP, Morrison L, Davis D, Kudenchuk PJ, Van Ottingham L, Vaillancourt C, Cheskes S, Atkins DL, Dorian P; Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium Investigators.
Resuscitation. 2012 Nov;83(11):1324-30. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2012.07.008. Epub 2012 Jul 31.
PMID: 22858552 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from PubMed Central.

[5] Wide variability in drug use in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: A report from the resuscitation outcomes consortium – Part I
Mon, 17 Sep 2012
Rogue Medic
Article

 
Kudenchuk, P., Brown, S., Daya, M., Rea, T., Nichol, G., Morrison, L., Leroux, B., Vaillancourt, C., Wittwer, L., Callaway, C., Christenson, J., Egan, D., Ornato, J., Weisfeldt, M., Stiell, I., Idris, A., Aufderheide, T., Dunford, J., Colella, M., Vilke, G., Brienza, A., Desvigne-Nickens, P., Gray, P., Gray, R., Seals, N., Straight, R., & Dorian, P. (2016). Amiodarone, Lidocaine, or Placebo in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest New England Journal of Medicine DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1514204

 

Glover BM, Brown SP, Morrison L, Davis D, Kudenchuk PJ, Van Ottingham L, Vaillancourt C, Cheskes S, Atkins DL, Dorian P, & the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium Investigators (2012). Wide variability in drug use in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: A report from the resuscitation outcomes consortium. Resuscitation PMID: 22858552

.

Amiodarone, Lidocaine, or Placebo in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest

ResearchBlogging.org
 

I wrote about the start of the ALPS (Amiodarone, Lidocaine, Placebo Study) in 2012[1] and the results are now in.
 

In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, prehospital trial, we found that treatment with amiodarone or lidocaine did not result in a significantly higher rate of survival to hospital discharge or favorable neurologic outcome at discharge than the rate with placebo after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest caused by shock-refractory initial ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia. There were also no significant differences in these outcomes between amiodarone and lidocaine.[2]

 

The primary endpoint is that amiodarone does not improve survival to discharge and neither does lidocaine. However, the results are a bit more complicated than just throw out the drugs.

Two subgroups did have better outcomes, but as the authors appropriately point out, subgroup analysis requires a higher level of significance, because you are essentially getting extra shots at the goal for every subgroup. The more subgroups we have, the more likely that one of them will reach the p value of <0.05.  

We observed an interaction of treatment with the witnessed status of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, which is often taken as a surrogate for early recognition of cardiac arrest, a short interval between the patient’s collapse from cardiac arrest and the initiation of treatment, and a greater likelihood of therapeutic responsiveness. Though prespecified, this subgroup analysis was performed in the context of an insignificant difference for the overall analysis, and the P value for heterogeneity in this subgroup analysis was not adjusted for the number of subgroup comparisons. Nonetheless, the suggestion that survival was improved by drug treatment in patients with witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, without evidence of harm in those with unwitnessed arrest, merits thoughtful consideration.[2]

 

Another important point is that the possibility of an effect was probably overestimated by the researchers. A much larger study would be needed to show this smaller effect.
 

Finally, the point estimates of the survival rates in the placebo group and the amiodarone group differed less than anticipated when the trial was designed, which suggests that the trial may have been underpowered. If amiodarone has a true treatment effect of 3 percentage points, approximately 9000 patients across the three trial groups would be needed to establish this difference in outcome with 90% power. Though seemingly small, a confirmed overall difference of 3 percentage points in survival with drug therapy would mean that 1800 additional lives could be saved each year in North America alone after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.[2]

 

How could the top doctors in the field be so far off in their estimate?

We dramatically overestimate the good we do and we dramatically underestimate the harm we do. We are unreasonably optimistic.
 

Monty Hall problem vs medicine 1
Image credit.
 

We still do not have any evidence that anything other than compressions and defibrillation improve outcomes for adult patients with cardiac arrest, but we insist on using these treatments, because we believe in magic pills.

Should we consider giving amiodarone or lidocaine to only witnessed cardiac arrest patients or only EMS-witnessed cardiac arrest? Yes, but that is really just limiting the use of these drugs to those who have some weak evidence of benefit.

We are already giving too many treatments to too many patients, based on too little evidence.

That is assuming that we have any valid evidence at all. Medical ethics appears to be only for other people, because we don’t care enough to find out if our treatments work. We just make excuses for the harm we cause to our patients.

Footnotes:

[1] What Will Be the Next Standard Of Care We Eliminate
Wed, 28 Mar 2012
Rogue Medic
Article

[2] Amiodarone, Lidocaine, or Placebo in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest
Amiodarone, Lidocaine, or Placebo in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest.
Kudenchuk PJ, Brown SP, Daya M, Rea T, Nichol G, Morrison LJ, Leroux B, Vaillancourt C, Wittwer L, Callaway CW, Christenson J, Egan D, Ornato JP, Weisfeldt ML, Stiell IG, Idris AH, Aufderheide TP, Dunford JV, Colella MR, Vilke GM, Brienza AM, Desvigne-Nickens P, Gray PC, Gray R, Seals N, Straight R, Dorian P; Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium Investigators.
N Engl J Med. 2016 Apr 4. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 27043165

Free Full Text from NEJM

 
Kudenchuk, P., Brown, S., Daya, M., Rea, T., Nichol, G., Morrison, L., Leroux, B., Vaillancourt, C., Wittwer, L., Callaway, C., Christenson, J., Egan, D., Ornato, J., Weisfeldt, M., Stiell, I., Idris, A., Aufderheide, T., Dunford, J., Colella, M., Vilke, G., Brienza, A., Desvigne-Nickens, P., Gray, P., Gray, R., Seals, N., Straight, R., & Dorian, P. (2016). Amiodarone, Lidocaine, or Placebo in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest New England Journal of Medicine DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1514204

.

Is mixing Mountain Dew and racing fuel a new trend?

 

Is Dewshine (mixing Mountain Dew and racing fuel) what all the cool kids are doing?

Will it make me cool?
 
DewAndFuel_1453815893474_30645234_ver1.0_640_480
Image credit.
 

According to one article, one recent case of four teens getting together to drink this bad idea of a cocktail may be just the tip of some sort of epidemic iceberg –
 

And that’s just one state, and the just the cases that have been reported.[1]

 

While that is correct, it is also much more than an exaggeration of the facts.
 

She (Tennessee Poison Center Medical Director Donna Seger) says this is the first time she has seen this type of poisoning. The four cases are the only ones reported in Tennessee, and Seger is not aware of any cases in other states.[2]

 

Nationally, there was only one methanol poisoning fatality reported among teens aged 13-19 by the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System in 2014, the most recent year data is available.[3]

 

Rudy Eugene was shot while eating the face of another person. This was supposed to be the beginning of a wave of attacks by abusers of bath salts, but . . .
 

Lab tests detected only marijuana in the system of a Florida man shot while chewing another man’s face, the medical examiner said Wednesday, ruling out other street drugs including the components typically found in the stimulants known as bath salts.[4]

 

We are still waiting for the bath salts zombie apocalypse.

What did I write about it at the time?[5]
 

This appears to be the first time that mixing Mountain Dew and racing fuel has been reported, so is it the tip of an iceberg or just an example of click bait?

Why mix racing fuel with anything and drink it? Racing fuel contains methanol, a type of alcohol that is much more poisonous to humans than ethanol (the type of alcohol that is sold for to be drunk by humans).

Why drink methanol, rather than ethanol? The dead were both 16 years old. Suppose that you are 16 and you want alcohol. Ethanol is not legally available. You probably do not know much about chemistry or toxicology. You may know that methanol is a form of alcohol. You skip right by due diligence. You draw the wrong conclusion. Four of you are hospitalized, but only two survive.

Teens tend to choose to experiment with marijuana, rather than methanol. Both are much easier to obtain than ethanol, but the dangers of marijuana are more likely to be legal, while the dangers of methanol are more likely to be medical.[6]

Mixing products containing methanol with Mountain Dew may be new, but the use of methanol for intoxication is not new, accidental ingestion of methanol by smaller children is also not new, and inhalation of products containing methanol (such as huffing carburetor cleaner) appears to be more even more common than ingestion of methanol.

The hospital treatment for methanol toxicity is hemodialysis and fomepizole (Antizol) and/or 10% ethanol. The EMS treatment is supportive care.[7]

Patients with initial blood sugar measurements above 140 mg/dL appear to be much more likely to die, which means that we should be especially vigilant with these patients, not that those with blood sugar measurements below 140 mg/dL will not die.[8]

Breath alcohol analyzers may mistake methanol for ethanol, so do not conclude that a positive breath test means drunk, rather than methanol poisoning.[9],[10],[11]

Don’t drink, or inhale, methanol. Methanol is neither fashionable nor healthy.

I hope you don’t come here for fashion advice, but I have provided valid evidence for my health advice.

Footnotes:

[1] Kids Are Dying From Drinking Racing Fuel Because For Fuck’s Sake, Don’t Drink Racing Fuel
Jason Torchinsky
Yesterday (01/27/2016?) 10:00pm
Article

[2] 2 teens die after drinking racing fuel, soda – The teens evidently thought they could drink methanol, which is extremely toxic, as a substitute for ethanol
EMS1.com
Yesterday (01/27/2016?) at 12:56 PM
AP
Article

[3] No ‘dewshine’ trend, Tennessee officials say
Anita Wadhwani
11:42 p.m. CST January 27, 2016
The Tennessean
Article

[4] Tests find only marijuana in face-chewer’s system
Boston Globe
Suzette Laboy
June 28, 2012
AP
Article

[5] Police fatally shot a naked man chewing on the face of another naked man
Tue, 29 May 2012
Rogue Medic
Article

 

Will I be surprised if the lab results show drugs in his system? No.

Will I be surprised if the lab results do not show drugs in his system? No.

There are other causes of excited delirium. Drugs are most common, so a wise bet would be to bet on there being drugs in his system, but enough patients experience excited delirium without drugs that we would be behaving inappropriately if we did not consider other causes of altered mental status, such as hypoglycemia, head injury, either a clot or a bleed in the brain, or any of the other possible causes of excited delirium.

We do not know what caused this.

 

[6] Cannabis-related hospitalizations: unexpected serious events identified through hospital databases.
Jouanjus E, Leymarie F, Tubery M, Lapeyre-Mestre M.
Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2011 May;71(5):758-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2010.03897.x.
PMID: 21204913

Free Full Text from PubMed Central
 

We estimated that in 2007 the incidence of cannabis-related AEs in the Midi-Pyrenees region ranged from 1.2 per 1000 regular cannabis users (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.7, 1.6) to 3.2 (95% CI 2.5, 3.9).

 

[7] American Academy of Clinical Toxicology practice guidelines on the treatment of methanol poisoning.
Barceloux DG, Bond GR, Krenzelok EP, Cooper H, Vale JA; American Academy of Clinical Toxicology Ad Hoc Committee on the Treatment Guidelines for Methanol Poisoning.
J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2002;40(4):415-46. Review.
PMID: 12216995
 

CONCLUSION:
The management of methanol poisoning includes standard supportive care, the correction of metabolic acidosis, the administration of folinic acid, the provision of an antidote to inhibit the metabolism of methanol to formate, and selective hemodialysis to correct severe metabolic abnormalities and to enhance methanol and formate elimination. Although both ethanol and fomepizole are effective, fomepizole is the preferred antidote for methanol poisoning.

 

[8] Hyperglycemia is a strong prognostic factor of lethality in methanol poisoning.
Sanaei-Zadeh H, Esfeh SK, Zamani N, Jamshidi F, Shadnia S.
J Med Toxicol. 2011 Sep;7(3):189-94. doi: 10.1007/s13181-011-0142-x.
PMID: 21336799

Free Full Text from PubMed Central
 

Considering the cutoff level of 140 mg/dL for blood glucose and using logistic regression analysis, and adjusting according to the admission data with significant statistical difference in the two study groups, the odds ratio for hyperglycemia as a risk factor for death was 6.5 (95% confidence interval = 1.59-26.4). Our study showed that blood glucose levels were high in methanol poisoning and even higher in those who died in comparison with the survivors. Therefore, hyperglycemia might be a new prognostic factor in methanol poisoning, but further studies are needed to determine whether controlling hyperglycemia has therapeutic consequences.

 

Don’t make the mistake of treating the blood sugar in the belief that you are improving outcomes. There is no evidence to support that hypothesis. In the absence of evidence of benefit or safety, we should expect that treating the blood sugar would be more harmful than beneficial.

[9] Breath alcohol analyzer mistakes methanol poisoning for alcohol intoxication.
Caravati EM, Anderson KT.
Ann Emerg Med. 2010 Feb;55(2):198-200. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2009.07.021. Epub 2009 Oct 14.
PMID: 19833410
 

A 47-year-old-man was found in a public park, acting intoxicated. A breath analyzer test (Intoxilyzer 5000EN) measured 0.288 g/210 L breath ethanol, without an interferent noted. In the emergency department, the patient admitted to drinking HEET Gas-Line antifreeze, which contains 99% methanol. Two to three hours after ingestion, serum and urine toxicology screen results were negative for ethanol and multiple other substances. His serum methanol concentration was 589 mg/dL,

 

[10] Methanol ingestion: prevention of toxic sequelae after massive ingestion.
Lushine KA, Harris CR, Holger JS.
J Emerg Med. 2003 May;24(4):433-6.
PMID: 12745047

[11] Observations on the specificity of breath-alcohol analyzers used for clinical and medicolegal purposes.
Jones AW.
J Forensic Sci. 1989 Jul;34(4):842-7.
PMID: 2760587
 

Three different methods of alcohol analysis are reported: semiconductor sensing (Alcotest 7310), electrochemical fuel cell (Alcolmeter SM-1), and infrared (IR) absorptiometry (IR Intoximeter 3000). Methanol could not be distinguished from ethanol with any of these breath-test instruments. When nonspecific techniques of ethanol analysis are used, the results must be considered with caution when interfering substances expelled in breath cannot be excluded.

 

.

Dextrose in Cardiac Arrest – More Kitchen Sink Medicine

 
Should we treat hypoglycemia in a dead person?

How do we determine hypoglycemia in a dead person?

Is there any evidence that giving dextrose, in any concentration, will help to resuscitate a dead person?

Should we treat patients based on the philosophy of Who knows? Maybe it could work? Bleach enemas are currently in fashion among the alternative to medicine crowd,[1] so we could use the same reasoning to give bleach enemas in cardiac arrest. Who knows? Maybe it could work.

Is Kitchen Sink Medicine significantly different from any other alternative to medicine?

The dead person is not breathing, so we have to provide ventilations.[2], [3], [4]

The dead person is dead, so we have to do something.

We do compressions and (when indicated) defibrillation, because those are the only treatments that have been demonstrated to work.

 


 
 

The foundation of successful ACLS is high-quality CPR, and, for VF/pulseless VT, attempted defibrillation within minutes of collapse. For victims of witnessed VF arrest, early CPR and rapid defibrillation can significantly increase the chance for survival to hospital discharge.128–133 In comparison, other ACLS therapies such as some medications and advanced airways, although associated with an increased rate of ROSC, have not been shown to increase the rate of survival to hospital discharge.31,33,134–138 [5]

 

Ventilations are only a part of high-quality CPR for children and people who have a respiratory cause of cardiac arrest.

But what about dextrose for hypoglycemic cardiac arrest?

We may already be raising the blood sugar with epinephrine.
 

Epinephrine causes a prompt increase in blood glucose concentration in the postabsorptive state. This effect is mediated by a transient increase in hepatic glucose production and an inhibition of glucose disposal by insulin-dependent tissues.[6]

 

We seem to have trouble understanding that dead people do not respond to treatments the same way that living people do.
 

Pharmacologic insults are just so massive and normal metabolism and physiology so deranged that no mere mortal can make a meaningful intervention. The seriously poisoned who maintain vital signs in the ED have the best, albeit never guaranteed, chance of rescue from a modicum of antidotes and intensive supportive care.[7]

 

Maybe we should find out what we are doing and not blindly throw kitchen sinks at dead people based on hunches.

Dr. Brooks Walsh gave a good review of the evidence in his article written three years ago.[8]
 

What about my original questions?

Should we treat hypoglycemia in a dead person?

There is no evidence that giving dextrose is safe or effective for any cardiac arrest patients.

How do we determine hypoglycemia in a dead person?

We guess or check a capillary blood sugar, which is not reliable.

Is there any evidence that giving dextrose, in any concentration, resuscitates a dead person?

No.
 

Go read Using Dextrose in Cardiac Arrest at Mill Hill Ave Command.
 

Footnotes:

[1] Bleaching away what ails you
Science-Based Medicine
David Gorski
May 28, 2012
Article

[2] Cardiocerebral Resuscitation: An Approach to Improving Survival of Patients With Primary Cardiac Arrest.
Ewy GA, Bobrow BJ.
J Intensive Care Med. 2014 Jul 30. pii: 0885066614544450. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 25077491 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

[3] Cardiocerebral resuscitation is associated with improved survival and neurologic outcome from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in elders.
Mosier J, Itty A, Sanders A, Mohler J, Wendel C, Poulsen J, Shellenberger J, Clark L, Bobrow B.
Acad Emerg Med. 2010 Mar;17(3):269-75.
PMID: 20370759 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from Academic Emergency Medicine.

[4] Cardiac Arrest Management is an EMT-Basic Skill – The Hands Only Evidence
Fri, 09 Dec 2011
Rogue Medic
Article

[5] Management of Cardiac Arrest
2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care Science
Part 8.2: Management of Cardiac Arrest
Overview
Free Full Text from Circulation.

[6] Effect of epinephrine on glucose metabolism in humans: contribution of the liver.
Sherwin RS, Saccà L.
Am J Physiol. 1984 Aug;247(2 Pt 1):E157-65.
PMID: 6380304 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

[7] Dissecting the ACLS Guidelines on Cardiac Arrest from Toxic Ingestions
Emergency Medicine News:
October 2011 – Volume 33 – Issue 10 – pp 16-18
doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000406945.05619.ca
InFocus
Roberts, James R. MD
Article

[8] Using Dextrose in Cardiac Arrest
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Mill Hill Ave Command
Dr. Brooks Walsh
Article

.

Should ACLS Recommend the Unknown Based on Weak Evidence?


 
The AHA (American Heart Association) and ILCOR (International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation) will be meeting tomorrow to finalize the recommendations for the 2015 ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) guidelines. Here is the comment I submitted on the proposed recommendation for epinephrine (Adrenaline in Commonwealth countries) in cardiac arrest.

I have not received any information about where to submit SEERS comments, so I am sending this to you. Please forward it to whomever is supposed to receive comments.

Vasopressors for cardiac arrest (1. Epi v Placebo)
 

Consensus on Science:
For all four long term (critical) and short term (important) outcomes, we found one underpowered trial that provided low quality evidence comparing SDE to placebo (Jacobs, 2001, 1138).
[1]

 

As a trial that is stated to be underpowered (through no fault of Dr. Jacobs),[2] is there any valid reason the Jacobs study should be considered to be superior to observational studies?
 

Among 534 subjects, there was uncertain benefit or harm of SDE over placebo for the critical outcomes of survival to discharge [RR 2.12, 95% CI 0.75-6.02, p=0.16] and good neurological outcome defined as CPC of 1-2 [RR 1.73, 95% CI 0.59-5.11, p=0.32].[1]

 

We do not have good evidence to tell us if this is harmful or beneficial and we do not have any way of determining which patients will be harmed or helped by administration of epinephrine.


 

However, patients who received SDE had higher rates of the two important outcomes of survival to admission [RR 1.95, 95% CI, 1.34-2.84, p=0.0004] and ROSC in the prehospital setting [RR 2.80, 95% CI 1.78-4.41, p<0.00001] compared to those who received placebo.[1]

 

Are these surrogate endpoints important?

How do we know?

If these surrogate endpoints are important, why is there no valid evidence to support this claim?

We have a history of being misled by surrogate endpoints. We used to bleed patients and that produced a number of clear benefits in surrogate endpoints.
 

Physicians observed of old, and continued to observe for many centuries, the following facts concerning blood-letting.

1. It gave relief to pain. . . . .

2. It diminished swelling. . . . .

3. It diminished local redness or congestion. . . . .

4. For a short time after bleeding, either local or general, abnormal heat was sensibly diminished.

5. After bleeding, spasms ceased, . . . .

6. If the blood could be made to run, patients were roused up suddenly from the apparent death of coma. (This was puzzling to those who regarded spasm and paralysis as opposite states; but it showed the catholic applicability of the remedy.)

7. Natural (wrongly termed ” accidental”) hacmorrhages were observed sometimes to end disease. . . . .

8. . . . venesection would cause hamorrhages to cease.[3]

 

We don’t do that any more, because medicine is not supposed to just create a superficial improvement.

We should not be making any recommendation to treat based on such weak evidence.
 

The evidence for the routine use of adrenaline is perceived to be at equipoise within the international community of resuscitation scientists requiring re-evaluation19 as suggested by this comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis. There is a need for well-designed, placebo-controlled, and adequately powered RCTs to evaluate the efficacy of adrenaline and to determine its optimal dosing.11,16,54 The question as to the efficacy of adrenaline for OHCA remains unanswered.[4]

 

Since the question as to the efficacy of adrenaline for OHCA remains unanswered, we should avoid substituting a bad answer for We don’t know.

Maybe we should bring back the indeterminate class for these unanswerable questions.
 

Treatment Recommendation
Given the observed benefit in short term outcomes, we suggest Standard Dose Epinephrine be administered to patients in cardiac arrest.(weak recommendation, low quality)
[1]

 

The benefit is considered important, but that is just an expert opinion, which is the lowest level of evidence.

A weak recommendation to give a treatment of unknown benefit and unknown harm, based on evidence that is admitted to be of low quality, should not set the standard of care. Even if the guidelines are explicitly stated to not be standards of care, they are adopted as standards of care by the emergency medicine community and by the EMS community.

We don’t know enough to make a recommendation about epinephrine, or most other treatments, in cardiac arrest.

We do not need to keep making the same recommendation just because we have made it before. We can leave it up to the treating physician or to the medical director writing the protocols for EMS.
 
 

See also – Proposed 2015 ACLS Epinephrine Recommendation – Vasopressors for cardiac arrest (1. Epi v Placebo)

Footnotes:

[1] Vasopressors for cardiac arrest (1. Epi v Placebo)
ILCOR Scientific Evidence Evaluation and Review System
Questions Open for Public Comment
Closing Date – February 28, 2015
Question page

[2] Effect of adrenaline on survival in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial
Jacobs IG, Finn JC, Jelinek GA, Oxer HF, Thompson PL.
Resuscitation. 2011 Sep;82(9):1138-43. Epub 2011 Jul 2.
PMID: 21745533 [PubMed – in process]

Free Full Text PDF Download of In Press Uncorrected Proof from xa.yming.com

 

This study was designed as a multicentre trial involving five ambulance services in Australia and New Zealand and was accordingly powered to detect clinically important treatment effects. Despite having obtained approvals for the study from Institutional Ethics Committees, Crown Law and Guardianship Boards, the concerns of being involved in a trial in which the unproven “standard of care” was being withheld prevented four of the five ambulance services from participating.

 

In addition adverse press reports questioning the ethics of conducting this trial, which subsequently led to the involvement of politicians, further heightened these concerns. Despite the clearly demonstrated existence of clinical equipoise for adrenaline in cardiac arrest it remained impossible to change the decision not to participate.

 

[3] Blood-Letting
Br Med J.
1871 March 18; 1(533): 283–291.
PMCID: PMC2260507

[4] Adrenaline for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest resuscitation: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
Lin S, Callaway CW, Shah PS, Wagner JD, Beyene J, Ziegler CP, Morrison LJ.
Resuscitation. 2014 Jun;85(6):732-40. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2014.03.008. Epub 2014 Mar 15.
PMID: 24642404 [PubMed – in process]

.

Proposed 2015 ACLS Epinephrine Recommendation – Vasopressors for cardiac arrest (1. Epi v Placebo)


 
What do the AHA (American Heart Association) and ILCOR (International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation) plan to make their recommendation on use of epinephrine (Adrenaline in Commonwealth countries) in cardiac arrest (ACLS – Advanced Cardiac Life Support)?
 

Full Question:
Among adults who are in cardiac arrest in any setting (P), does does use of epinephrine (I), compared with placebo or not using epinephrine (C), change Survival with Favorable neurological/functional outcome at discharge, 30 days, 60 days, 180 days AND/OR 1 year, Survival only at discharge, 30 days, 60 days, 180 days AND/OR 1 year, ROSC (O)?

The information provided is currently in DRAFT format and is NOT a FINAL version[1]

 

Unless you are familiar with the way AHA/ILCOR ask questions, this may not seem to be a helpful way of addressing the question. Here is the format being used –

PICO:

Population/Patient/Problem

Intervention

Comparison/Control

Outcome
 

The Patients are adults who are in cardiac arrest in any setting.

The Intervention is use of epinephrine.

The Comparison is placebo or not using epinephrine.

The Outcome is a bit complicated – Survival with Favorable neurological/functional outcome at discharge, 30 days, 60 days, 180 days AND/OR 1 year, Survival only at discharge, 30 days, 60 days, 180 days AND/OR 1 year, ROSC. ROSC is Return Of Spontaneous Circulation.

Everything is reasonable – until they get to the outcome. Does anyone still think that it is really an improvement to get pulses back, be transported to the hospital, never wake up, and die in the ED (Emergency Department) or ICU (Intensive Care Unit)? What if the coma lasts for 30 days, 60 days, 180 days AND/OR 1 year. If you think that is an improvement, you may not have considered the cost. How much is it worth to give a family false hope? $10,000? Who pays for this deception?

Should we also try putting the patient in a helicopter to see if the magic rotor blades make the family feel that everything possible was done to deceive them?

These are considered to be important, because we do not seem to know what is important.

Why are ROSC and survival to admission considered important?

Where is the evidence that these measurements lead to better outcomes?
 

 

Studies that look at these outcomes show that real world patients treated with epinephrine are more likely to die in the hospital – and those who do not die in the hospital are more likely to have severe neurological impairment.
 

Click on image to make it larger.[2] The studies are in the footnotes.[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10]
 

Is Adrenaline beneficial in cardiac arrest?

Probably, but only for some patients and we do not know which patients benefit.

Is Adrenaline harmful in cardiac arrest?

Probably, but only for some patients and we do not know which patients are harmed.

The evidence evaluation focused on the Jacobs study,[8] which is randomized and placebo controlled, but only reaches the level of fair according to the analysis of all of the evidence. The reason is that politicians and the media combined to sabotage the study. Most of the ambulance services dropped out of the Jacobs study because of this interference. This is not the fault of Dr. Ian G. Jacobs, who deserves credit for setting up the first randomized placebo controlled study of this important topic.
 

For all four long term (critical) and short term (important) outcomes, we found one underpowered trial that provided low quality evidence comparing SDE to placebo (Jacobs, 2001, 1138).[1]

 

We need to bring back the Indeterminate class of recommendation for ACLS, because that is the best that we can come up with for epinephrine, unless we ignore the evidence or we just don’t understand the evidence.
 

Table 3.
Applying Classification of Recommendations and Level of Evidence

. . .

Class Indeterminate.
• Research just getting started
• Continuing area of research
• No recommendations until further research (eg, cannot recommend for or against)[11]

 

Does the proposed ACLS recommendation on epinephrine makes sense?

Consider that we do not know which patients benefit from epinephrine. The treatment for every cause of cardiac arrest includes epinephrine as the first drug, even if the cause of cardiac arrest is known to be an overdose of epinephrine.

Is epinephrine better than nothing for some patients in cardiac arrest? Yes.

Is epinephrine worse than nothing for some patients in cardiac arrest? Yes.

We do not know which patients we are harming with epinephrine and we don’t seem to want to stop harming those patients.

Footnotes:

[1] Vasopressors for cardiac arrest (1. Epi v Placebo)
ILCOR Scientific Evidence Evaluation and Review System
Questions Open for Public Comment
Closing Date – February 28, 2015
Question page

[2] Vasopressors in cardiac arrest: a systematic review.
Larabee TM, Liu KY, Campbell JA, Little CM.
Resuscitation. 2012 Aug;83(8):932-9. Epub 2012 Mar 15.
PMID: 22425731 [PubMed – in process]
 

CONCLUSION: There are few studies that compare vasopressors to placebo in resuscitation from cardiac arrest. Epinephrine is associated with improvement in short term survival outcomes as compared to placebo, but no long-term survival benefit has been demonstrated. Vasopressin is equivalent for use as an initial vasopressor when compared to epinephrine during resuscitation from cardiac arrest. There is a short-term, but no long-term, survival benefit when using high dose vs. standard dose epinephrine during resuscitation from cardiac arrest. There are no alternative vasopressors that provide a long-term survival benefit when compared to epinephrine. There is limited data on the use of vasopressors in the pediatric population.

[3] High dose and standard dose adrenaline do not alter survival, compared with placebo, in cardiac arrest.
Woodhouse SP, Cox S, Boyd P, Case C, Weber M.
Resuscitation. 1995 Dec;30(3):243-9.
PMID: 8867714 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

[4] Adrenaline in out-of-hospital ventricular fibrillation. Does it make any difference?
Herlitz J, Ekström L, Wennerblom B, Axelsson A, Bång A, Holmberg S.
Resuscitation. 1995 Jun;29(3):195-201.
PMID: 7667549 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

[5] Survival outcomes with the introduction of intravenous epinephrine in the management of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Ong ME, Tan EH, Ng FS, Panchalingham A, Lim SH, Manning PG, Ong VY, Lim SH, Yap S, Tham LP, Ng KS, Venkataraman A; Cardiac Arrest and Resuscitation Epidemiology Study Group.
Ann Emerg Med. 2007 Dec;50(6):635-42. Epub 2007 May 23.
PMID: 17509730 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text Download in PDF format from prdupl02.ynet.co.il

[6] Intravenous drug administration during out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: a randomized trial.
Olasveengen TM, Sunde K, Brunborg C, Thowsen J, Steen PA, Wik L.
JAMA. 2009 Nov 25;302(20):2222-9.
PMID: 19934423 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from JAMA

[7] Outcome when adrenaline (epinephrine) was actually given vs. not given – post hoc analysis of a randomized clinical trial.
Olasveengen TM, Wik L, Sunde K, Steen PA.
Resuscitation. 2011 Nov 22. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 22115931 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

[8] Effect of adrenaline on survival in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial
Jacobs IG, Finn JC, Jelinek GA, Oxer HF, Thompson PL.
Resuscitation. 2011 Sep;82(9):1138-43. Epub 2011 Jul 2.
PMID: 21745533 [PubMed – in process]

Free Full Text PDF Download of In Press Uncorrected Proof from xa.yming.com

 

This study was designed as a multicentre trial involving five ambulance services in Australia and New Zealand and was accordingly powered to detect clinically important treatment effects. Despite having obtained approvals for the study from Institutional Ethics Committees, Crown Law and Guardianship Boards, the concerns of being involved in a trial in which the unproven “standard of care” was being withheld prevented four of the five ambulance services from participating.

 

In addition adverse press reports questioning the ethics of conducting this trial, which subsequently led to the involvement of politicians, further heightened these concerns. Despite the clearly demonstrated existence of clinical equipoise for adrenaline in cardiac arrest it remained impossible to change the decision not to participate.

 

[9] Prehospital epinephrine use and survival among patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Hagihara A, Hasegawa M, Abe T, Nagata T, Wakata Y, Miyazaki S.
JAMA. 2012 Mar 21;307(11):1161-8. doi: 10.1001/jama.2012.294.
PMID: 22436956 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from JAMA.

[10] Impact of early intravenous epinephrine administration on outcomes following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Hayashi Y, Iwami T, Kitamura T, Nishiuchi T, Kajino K, Sakai T, Nishiyama C, Nitta M, Hiraide A, Kai T.
Circ J. 2012;76(7):1639-45. Epub 2012 Apr 5.
PMID: 22481099 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from Circulation Japan.

[11] Table 3. Applying Classification of Recommendations and Level of Evidence
2005 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care
Part 1: Introduction
Table 3

I have modified this table solely for the purpose of clarity of presentation, by modifying color and font. None of the words have been changed.

.

Narcan in Cardiac Arrest – Safe as Long as I Don’t Understand Safety


 
How can I justify exposing patients to the risks of a treatment that has no known benefit?

Here is one way –
 

I give Narcan in arrest. You might not. Neither of us are wrong. Yet.
 

Narcan (naloxone) is one of the safer drugs we use. Suppose that I give a drug in a way that has not been found to be beneficial because I think it is safe as long as I can’t think of a specific problem I can cause. Does that make the inappropriate drug administration safe? Or is it just an example of my ignorance?

If a lack of knowledge were a good thing, we should not teach anything about pharmacology.

The less I know, the safer it is. Ignorance is safety.

We should not teach about the adverse effects of drugs, because as long as I don’t know about the danger, there is no danger. It is only after the danger is known that the danger is real, so don’t tell me about any dangers.
 

In the ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) guidelines, the American Heart Association tells us that it is wrong to give Narcan during cardiac arrest.
 

Naloxone is a potent antagonist of the binding of opioid medications to their receptors in the brain and spinal cord. Administration of naloxone can reverse central nervous system and respiratory depression caused by opioid overdose. Naloxone has no role in the management of cardiac arrest.[1]

 

Naloxone has no role in the management of cardiac arrest.
 

Why did I give Narcan? Because ACLS told me not to.

Don’t think, just do something. If I do not know of a danger, there is no danger. If I have been told that it is wrong, do it anyway.
 


Image credits – 123
 

Repeat the mindless sequence as often as necessary, until the desire to understand patient care has been destroyed.
 


 

But Narcan reverses respiratory depression and apnea.

Narcan can reverses respiratory depression or apnea in a living patient. A patient in cardiac arrest due to a heroin overdose should be treated for a respiratory cause of cardiac arrest. Children and patients with respiratory causes of cardiac arrest should be ventilated and oxygenated. These patients will also be receiving epinephrine (Adrenaline in Commonwealth countries) in the early part of the standard treatment of cardiac arrest. Narcan does not add anything to these treatments the patient is already receiving.
 

But Narcan is safe – and I can’t make the patient any worse.
 

Naloxone is one of the safer drugs we can give to a patient when there is an indication to give naloxone. Even when given inappropriately, naloxone is not very likely to cause harm.

There are several problems.

If I am pushing drugs because I don’t know what to do, I should be trying to figure out what treatments I can give that might actually help the patient. There is no reason to believe that naloxone might actually help the patient. If I am giving drugs that provide no benefit, I am distracting myself from assessment, which might provide information that can help me resuscitate the patient.
 

As long as I don’t know what I’m doing, I am not wrong.
 

No.

As long as I don’t know what I’m doing, I am both wrong and dangerous.
 
 

See also –
 

Dissecting the ACLS Guidelines on Cardiac Arrest from Toxic Ingestions – Tue, 01 Nov 2011

Naloxone in cardiac arrest with suspected opioid overdoses – Thu, 05 Apr 2012

The Myth that Narcan Reverses Cardiac Arrest – Wed, 12 Dec 2012

Resuscitation characteristics and outcomes in suspected drug overdose-related out-of-hospital cardiac arrest – Sun, 03 Aug 2014

Footnotes:

[1] Opioid Toxicity
2010 ACLS
2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care
Part 12.7: Cardiac Arrest Associated With Toxic Ingestions
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