Aim of the study: The appropriate time point of evaluation of functional outcome in cardiac arrest survivors remains a matter of debate. In this cohort study we posed the hypothesis that there are no significant changes in Cerebral Performance Categories (CPC) between one month and six months after out-of hospital cardiac arrest. If changes were present we aimed to identify reasons for these changes.
Methods: Based on a cardiac arrest registry, a potential change in CPC and mortality between one month and six months after cardiac arrest was analysed. Variables that were associated with these changes were identified.
Results: Thirty percent of 681 patients showed a significant change in functional outcome and mortality between one month and six months after out-of hospital cardiac arrest, 12% improved in CPC, 1% deteriorated, 17% died. The only factor that was associated with an improvement in CPC in the multivariate analysis was time to restoration of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) (RRR 1.04, 95% CI 1.01-1.06, per minute). We could not find any significant factors associated with a deterioration of CPC. Factors that were associated with mortality were age (RRR 1.03, 95% CI 1.01-1.06) and ventricular fibrillation as initial cardiac rhythm (RRR 0.34, 95% CI 0.16-0.71).
Conclusions: There is a relevant change of functional outcome even one month after out-of hospital cardiac arrest. Especially when studies compare patient groups with unequal arrest times, and an unequal distribution of initial cardiac rhythms a follow-up period longer than one month should be considered for the final outcome evaluation after cardiac arrest.