Kira Peikoff, a graduate of the Master of Science in Bioethics program, has written an article in The New York Times about advancements in resuscitation techniques.
There is a vast disparity in CPR effectiveness between different regions, Peikoff writes, specifying that “in Seattle and King County, survival rates for cardiac arrests treated by emergency medical services [is] 19.9 percent...In places like Detroit, the survival rate is about 3 percent.” Such strong variation is not seen in other serious emergencies like stroke or heart attack.
Reasons behind this disparity lie in the complexity of the CPR procedure and the fact that “experts in critical care have developed an arsenal of modern treatment refinements [that, however] remain underused in practice.”
Peikoff quotes Dr. Sam Parnia, director of resuscitation research at Stony Brook Hospital, comparing CPR to driving an outdated automobile: “When it struggles to go uphill, we should switch to a more modern car — say a Ferrari with a powerful engine.”
One of the alternatives to CPR is “extra corporeal membrane oxygenation, [which is] more widely used in countries like Japan and South Korea.” These countries have better chances of resuscitating patients than the United States. Another crucial procedure “is therapeutic hypothermia. Patients who remain comatose after being in cardiac arrest should be cooled for at least 24 hours to a temperature from 89.6 to 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit, to slow down the metabolic processes that cause cells to die.”
Peikoff concludes by mentioning The American Heart Association, which “releases resuscitation guidelines in the journal Circulation based on a synthesis of the latest research...[and hopes] by 2020 to double survival rates to 16 percent nationwide after out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.”
Read the full story here, and find out more about our graduate program in Bioethics.