Statement Highlights:

  • During transportation to the hospital, children who had a cardiac arrest should receive the same care as those in the hospital setting
  • Clinicians should consider the child’s quality of life and how that affects their family
  • Cardiac arrest in children may result in post-cardiac arrest syndrome, which may include neurobehavioral and neuropsychiatric changes, cardiovascular and quality-of-life issues and other serious health issues.

DALLAS, June 27, 2019 — Children who survive cardiac arrest may face long-term cardiovascular, neurological and other serious issues, according to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association, published in the Association’s journal Circulation. The statement provides an overview for clinicians of recent scientific research into how to care for these children.

According to the statement, children surviving cardiac arrest are at high risk for physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities that can affect quality of life, family function, activities of daily living, school performance and employment.

“The post-cardiac arrest time period is a time when the monitoring and treatment of infants and children who have been resuscitated from a cardiac arrest can improve survival and neurobehavioral outcomes,” said Alexis A. Topjian, M.D., MSCE, FAHA, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Critical Care at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and volunteer chair of the writing group. “This new scientific statement summarizes the current science and supporting evidence about how to care for these patients.”

The statement provides clinicians with recommendations to optimize pediatric post‒cardiac arrest care, such as:

  • During transportation to the hospital, children who have had a cardiac arrest should receive the same care as those in the hospital setting coordinated by a transport team whose members are trained and experienced in the care of critically ill children
  • Clinicians should consider the child’s quality of life and how that affects their family

It is estimated that more than 5,000 children experience an out of hospital cardiac arrest each year in the United States, and more than 1,800 infants and children are at risk for post-cardiac arrest syndrome annually.[1]

As CPR quality and post-cardiac arrest care improve, more children will survive requiring more research focused on long-term neurobehavioral and neuropsychiatric outcomes, as well as the health-related quality-of-life impact on survivors and families.

Relevant stats

  • It is estimated that more than 1800 infants and children are at risk annually for post-cardiac arrest syndrome after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
  • An estimated 6000 infants and children experience an in-hospital cardiac arrest annually with estimates of approximately 4800 infants and children being at risk for development of Post-Cardiac Arrest Syndrome annually after in-hospital cardiac arrest.
  • More than 6500 children per year in the United States have Post-Cardiac Arrest Syndrome.
  • Annual approximate incidence of nontraumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is 8.04 per 100,000 person-years.

Co-authors are Allan de Caen, M.D.; Mark S. Wainwright, M.D., Ph.D.; Benjamin S. Abella, M.D., M.Phil., FAHA; Nicholas S. Abend, M.D., MSCE; Dianne L. Atkins, M.D., FAHA; Melania M. Bembea, M.D.,MPH, Ph.D.; Ericka L. Fink, M.D., MS, FAHA; Anne-Marie Guerguerian, M.D., Ph.D., Vice Chair; Sarah E. Haskell, DO; J. Hope Kilgannon, M.D.; Javier J. Lasa, M.D.; Mary Fran Hazinski, R.N.,MSN, FAHA.

 Additional Resources:

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About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.   

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[1] Circulation. 2019;140:00–00. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000697