Background: Subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) is known as one of the aetiologies of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). However, the mechanisms of circulatory collapse in these patients have remained unclear.
Methods and results: We examined 244 consecutive OHCA patients transferred to our emergency department. Head computed tomography was performed on all patients and revealed the existence of SAH in 14 patients (5.9%, 10 females). Among these, sudden collapse was witnessed in 7 patients (50%). On their initial cardiac rhythm, all 14 patients showed asystole or pulseless electrical activity, but no ventricular fibrillation (VF). Return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) was obtained in 10 of the 14 patients (14.9% of all ROSC patients) although all resuscitated patients died later. The ROSC rate in patients with SAH (71%) was significantly higher than that of patients with either other types of intracranial haemorrhage (25%, n=2/8) or presumed cardiovascular aetiologies (22%, n=23/101) (p<0.01). On electrocardiograms, ST-T abnormalities and/or QT prolongation were found in all 10 resuscitated patients. Despite their electrocardiographic abnormalities, only 3 patients showed echocardiographic abnormalities.
Conclusions: The frequency of SAH in patients with all causes of OHCA was about 6%, and in resuscitated patients was about 15%. The initial cardiac rhythm revealed no VF even though half had a witnessed arrest. A high ROSC rate was observed in patients with SAH, although none survived to hospital discharge.
Copyright © 2011. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.