Pediatric In-Hospital Cardiac Arrest and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation in the United States: A Review

JAMA Pediatr. 2021 Mar 1;175(3):293-302. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.5039.


Importance: Pediatric in-hospital cardiac arrest (IHCA) occurs frequently and is associated with high morbidity and mortality. The objective of this narrative review is to summarize the current knowledge and recommendations regarding pediatric IHCA and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Observations: Each year, more than 15 000 children receive CPR for cardiac arrest during hospitalization in the United States. As many as 80% to 90% survive the event, but most patients do not survive to hospital discharge. Most IHCAs occur in intensive care units and other monitored settings and are associated with respiratory failure or shock. Bradycardia with poor perfusion is the initial rhythm in half of CPR events, and only about 10% of events have an initial shockable rhythm. Pre-cardiac arrest systems focus on identifying at-risk patients and ensuring that they are in monitored settings. Important components of CPR include high-quality chest compressions, timely defibrillation when indicated, appropriate ventilation and airway management, administration of epinephrine to increase coronary perfusion pressure, and treatment of the underlying cause of cardiac arrest. Extracorporeal CPR and measurement of physiological parameters are evolving areas in improving outcomes. Structured post-cardiac arrest care focused on targeted temperature management, optimization of hemodynamics, and careful intensive care unit management is associated with improved survival and neurological outcomes.

Conclusions and relevance: Pediatric IHCA occurs frequently and has a high mortality rate. Early identification of risk, prevention, delivery of high-quality CPR, and post-cardiac arrest care can maximize the chances of achieving favorable outcomes. More research in this field is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / methods
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Heart Arrest / diagnosis*
  • Heart Arrest / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Pediatrics / methods
  • Pediatrics / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology