Malignant Arrhythmias During Induction of Target Temperature Management After Cardiac Arrest

Ther Hypothermia Temp Manag. 2020 Dec;10(4):229-236. doi: 10.1089/ther.2019.0025. Epub 2019 Sep 27.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the incidence and determinants of malignant arrhythmias (MA) in patients with shock following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) treated with targeted temperature management. Risk factors for the development of MA were prospectively analyzed in patients after OHCA. MA were defined as ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation with a duration >30 seconds, which had to be terminated by defibrillation. All patients were treated with therapeutic hypothermia for 24 hours. Demographics, OHCA details, interventions, and intensive care unit (ICU) treatment were recorded. A total of 55 patients were included, 11 (20%) of whom developed MA during the ICU stay. All MA occurred within the first 18 hours after admission. Patients who developed MA showed a stronger decrease in body temperature (Δ -2.4°C ± 0.8°C vs. Δ -1.3°C ± 1.3°C; p = 0.016) and in serum potassium levels (Δ -0.9 ± 1 mmol/L vs. Δ -0.3 ± 0.6 mmol/L; p = 0.037) during the cooling period compared with patients without MA. In the multivariable analysis, fast temperature decline as well as lower potassium levels were associated with MA. In addition, higher number of shocks during resuscitation and higher ICU epinephrine use were independent predictors of MA in patients with OHCA. The use of epinephrine as well as hypokalemia in context with intense cooling may increase the incidence of MA in patients with shock after cardiac arrest. Therefore, these therapeutic strategies should be applied with caution in this vulnerable group of patients.

Keywords: arrhythmias; postresuscitation treatment; shock; target temperature management.