Out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in young adults in Melbourne, Australia

Resuscitation. 2011 Jul;82(7):830-4. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2011.03.008. Epub 2011 Mar 23.


Background: Characteristics and outcomes of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) in young adults are not well described in Australia.

Methods: A 10-year retrospective case review of all OHCA in young adults (aged 16-39) and not witnessed by EMS, was performed using data from the Victorian Ambulance Cardiac Arrest Registry (VACAR).

Results: Between 2000 and 2009 there were 30,006 adult cardiac arrests of which 3912 (13%) were in this age group. The median (IQR) age was 30 (25-35) years for both sexes with a 3:1 male to female ratio. Overdose was the most common precipitant (33.5%) followed by presumed cardiac (20%). Bystander CPR occurred in 21.2%, EMS median response time was 7 min and resuscitation was attempted in 36% of OHCAs. The presenting rhythm was asystole in 84.6%, PEA in 8.8% and VF/VT in 6.6%. Survival to hospital discharge, for all cause OHCA where resuscitation was attempted, was similar for young adult and older adults (8.8% vs 8.4%, p=0.2). However, for presumed cardiac aetiology OHCA, young adults had a greater proportion of survivors (14.8% vs 9.0%, p<0.001). Cardiac arrest with shockable rhythm (VF/pulseless VT) had a survival rate of 31.2% for young adults compared to 18.5% for older adults (p<0.001).

Conclusion: Survival to hospital discharge rates from OHCA due to a 'presumed cardiac' precipitant in young adults is much better than older adults, however, all cause OHCA survival is similar. Multi agency novel upstream preventive strategies aimed at tackling drug overdose may reduce this aetiology of OHCA and save lives.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / methods
  • Drug Overdose / complications
  • Drug Overdose / epidemiology
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest / epidemiology*
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest / etiology
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / complications
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / epidemiology
  • Victoria / epidemiology
  • Young Adult