UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Cardiology

Title: post arrest "coma" for hypothermia

Keywords: therapeutic hypothermia, induced hypothermia, cardiac arrest, post arrest care (PubMed Search)

Posted: 8/28/2011 by Amal Mattu, MD (Updated: 1/18/2022)
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If you're like me, you've been a bit confused about what exactly defines "coma" in the current recommendations for post-arrest hypothermia in "comatose" patients with return of spontaneous circulation. Fortunately, a recent NEJM article has helped clarify this by suggesting that hypothermia should be induced in these post-arrest patients with either:

  1. GCS < 8
  2. "patients who do not obey any verbal command at any time after restoration of spontaneous circulation and before initiation of cooling."

Naturally, if the patient was comatose before the arrest, don't bother.


Holzer M. Targeted temperature management for comatose survivors of cardiac arrest. N Engl J Med 2010;363:1256-1264.