A recent study suggests that the adrenaline shots used on cardiac arrest patients are more likely to cause health problems than benefits.
A new study conducted by doctors on over 8,000 people across the United Kingdom revealed that the adrenaline shots which were given to patients suffering cardiac arrest increase their survival rate by less than 1 percent. However, what’s even more alarming is that the treatment could nearly double the risk of permanent brain damage to the patient.
Every year, more than 30,000 individuals suffer from cardiac arrest in the U.K. alone. Out of this number, only 10 percent reportedly survive long enough to be discharged from hospitalization. Annually, there are also around 475,000 Americans who die from heart attacks.
Adrenaline shots are usually given to cardiac arrest victims to attempt to restart the heart when CPR and defibrillation fail to revive the victims.
For the three-year study, doctors gave patients from England and Wales an adrenaline or saltwater solution injection. The trial revealed that out of the 4,012 patients that received adrenaline shots, only 130 patients (3.2%) were alive 30 days after the treatment.
Conversely, 94 patient (2.4%) of the 3,995 patients that were given saltwater solution survived.
However, out of the 130 patients from the adrenaline group that was discharged, 39 had severe brain damage as compared to the 16 from the placebo group.
“What we’ve shown is that adrenaline can restart the heart, but it is no good for the brain,” Gavin Perkins, one of the authors of the study from the University of Warwick, said.
“Make no mistake, the results of this landmark trial will change the way people are treated if, unfortunately, their heart should stop,” David Nunan, a senior researcher from the University of Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine who’s not part of the study, commented. “Until now, everyone who’s been eligible to receive adrenaline would have been given it without question. That can no longer be the case.”
The researchers admitted that their study had raised significant ethical issues. Apparently, the urgency of injecting adrenaline shots during cardiac arrest situations has made it impossible for medical practitioners to seek the consent of patients for them to take part in the trial before the treatment.
Instead, the researchers had the family of surviving patients contacted afterward for consent. The researchers also added that before the trial began, a public awareness campaign about the study was launched to inform the people and gave them the chance to opt out.