Resuscitation from clinical death: pathophysiologic limits and therapeutic potentials

Crit Care Med. 1988 Oct;16(10):923-41. doi: 10.1097/00003246-198810000-00003.


Modern cardiopulmonary-cerebral resuscitation (CPCR) for the reversal of clinical death (i.e., prolonged cardiac arrest) is a sequence of basic, advanced and prolonged life-support steps. This system was initiated by research that started in the 1950s. Present community-wide results are encouraging, but suboptimal. Maximal benefit from CPCR will be achievable: a) by minimizing response times; and b) by extending reversible arrest times--the topic of this symposium. For reperfusion, closed chest CPR is more readily available than, but physiologically inferior to, open chest CPR and emergency cardiopulmonary bypass. To optimize outcome, four components of the postresuscitation syndrome are being investigated: a) perfusion failure; b) reoxygenation injury cascades; c) self-intoxication; and d) blood derangements. Results from animal outcome studies so far suggest significant but still inconsistent benefit from several special postarrest treatments. The longest normothermic no-flow time yet reversed to good functional survival of heart, brain and the entire organism appears to be not 5 min, but between 10 and 20 min. The following is recommended and in part has been initiated: a) simultaneous investigation of pathophysiologic limits, therapeutic potentials, and prognosticating measurements; b) simultaneous basic research at cellular, organ, and organism levels; c) increased communication and consensus on research models between research centers; d) use of short-term and long-term animal models for systematic mechanism-oriented and empirical outcome-oriented studies; e) development of etiology-specific combination treatments; and f) community-wide case registries combined with epidemiologic studies and randomized clinical treatment trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Death*
  • Heart Arrest / physiopathology
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Resuscitation* / adverse effects
  • Resuscitation* / methods