UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Title: Calcium for Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest

Keywords: Calcium, cardiac arrest (PubMed Search)

Posted: 12/4/2021 by Ashley Martinelli (Updated: 8/14/2022)
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Calcium is commonly administered during cardiac arrest, but there is little data to support or refute its use.  The Calcium for Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest trial was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel group study conducted in Denmark.  Their EMS system responds to all cardiac arrests with an ambulance and a physician-manned mobile emergency care unit.

Adult patients were included if they had out of-of-hospital (OOH) cardiac arrest and received at least 1 dose of epinephrine. Exclusion criteria were traumatic arrest, known or suspected pregnancy, prior enrollment in the trial, receipt of epinephrine from an EMS unit not in the trial, or a clinical indication for calcium during the arrest (i.e. hyperkalemia or hypocalcemia).

Patients received 735mg calcium chloride dihydrate (5 mmol CaCl –US standard product is 1000mg) or saline control immediately after the first dose of epinephrine.  A second dose was administered after the second dose of epinephrine if cardiac arrest ongoing. Teams were blinded to the treatments. The primary outcome was ROSC for at least 20 minutes.

397 patients were randomized (197 calcium, 200 saline). The average age was 68 years old, 70% were male, and over 80% of the cardiac arrests occurred at home, 60% witnessed arrests, and 82% received bystander CPR. Only 25% were in a shockable rhythm. The time to first epinephrine and study drug was approximately 17 minutes and over 70% received two doses.

ROSC rates were low and not statistically different between groups, 19% in the calcium group vs 27% in the saline group.  There was no difference in survival to 30d or neurologic function. In the patients who did achieve ROSC in the calcium arm, 74% had hypercalcemia.

Bottom Line: The routine use of calcium in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is not recommended.

 

References

Vallentin MF, et al. Effect of intravenous or intraosseous calcium vs saline on return of spontaneous circulation in adults with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. JAMA. Published online November 30, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.20929