Pulseless electrical activity in cardiac arrest: electrocardiographic presentations and management considerations based on the electrocardiogram

Am J Emerg Med. 2012 Jan;30(1):236-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2010.08.017. Epub 2010 Oct 20.


Pulseless electrical activity (PEA), a cardiac arrest rhythm scenario with an associated poor prognosis, is defined as cardiac electrical activity without a palpable pulse. Considering both outpatient and inpatient cardiac arrest presentations, PEA as a rhythm group has been increasing over the past 10 to 20 years with a corresponding decrease in the "shockable" rhythms, such as pulseless ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. This review focuses on electrocardiographic findings encountered in PEA cardiac arrest presentations with an emphasis on recognition of patients with a potential opportunity for successful resuscitation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Heart Arrest / diagnosis
  • Heart Arrest / physiopathology*
  • Heart Arrest / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Pulse