Long-term electro-clinical profile of sudden cardiac arrest survivors

Epilepsia Open. 2021 Sep;6(3):559-568. doi: 10.1002/epi4.12516. Epub 2021 Jul 13.


Objective: Recent research has explored the use of continuous EEG (cEEG) monitoring for prognostication of spontaneous cardiac arrest (SCA). However, there is limited literature on the long-term (post-hospital discharge) electrographic findings among SCA survivors and their clinical correlates. Our study aims to fill this critical knowledge gap.

Methods: We retrospectively used our EEG database to identify adults (≥18 years) with SCA history who underwent an outpatient laboratory-based EEG between 01/01/2011 and 12/31/2018. After electronic medical records (EMR) review, patients with epilepsy history and unclear/poorly documented SCA history were excluded. Outpatient EEGs were reviewed by authors. Acute EEG findings were extracted from the EEG database and EMR. In addition, we extracted data on acute and long-term neuroimaging findings (CT/MRI), post-SCA seizures, and anti-seizure medications (ASM) status. Descriptive analysis and Fisher's exact test were performed.

Results: We included 32 SCA survivors (50% women; mean age = 52.1 ± 13.6 years) in the study. During a median clinical follow-up of 28.2 months, 3 patients suffered only clinical seizures, 3 only chronic post-hypoxic myoclonus, and 5 had both [11 (34.4%) in total]. Interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs) were noted in one-third of the patients, which localized to vertex and frontocentral regions in all but one patient. Five (15.6%) of them did not suffer a clinical seizure despite the presence of EAs. Patients who developed epilepsy were significantly more likely to have abnormal neuroimaging findings [10/11 (90.9%)] during the follow-up compared to the rest of the patients [OR = 25 (95% CI 2.6->100, P = .002)]. Half of the study cohort was taking ASM at the last follow-up.

Significance: Our small study reveals a signature location of IEDs in SCA survivors. Neuroimaging abnormalities seem to be a better indicator of epilepsy development, while EEG may reveal markers of potential epileptogenicity in the absence of clinical seizures. Future, larger studies are needed to confirm our findings.

Keywords: EEG; anti-epileptic drugs; cardiac arrest; epileptogenesis; seizures.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures*
  • Survivors