Expanding automatic external defibrillators to include automated detection of cardiac, respiratory, and cardiorespiratory arrest
The new Guidelines of the American Heart Association state that lay rescuers can no longer rely on the manual pulse check to confirm cardiac arrest in an unresponsive patient. We were therefore prompted to develop a method for automated determination of the presence or absence of cardiac contraction and breathing. The technique was designed to be incorporated into conventional automated external defibrillators and to work in conjunction with the information derived from rhythm analyses by the automated defibrillator. Using conventional electrocardiographic sensing and defibrillation electrodes, the transthoracic impedance was measured by passing a constant amplitude alternating current of 5 mA through the thorax at a frequency of 35 kHz. In five anesthetized male domestic swine, we observed pulses that were coincident with cardiac contraction documented by esophageal echocardiography. In addition, we observed larger signals of lower frequency that were time related to ventilation and documented by capnography. Both signals disappeared after inducing ventricular fibrillation. The impedance measurement identified respiratory arrest in anesthetized animals and primary cardiac arrest after ventricular fibrillation was induced. The cardiac arrest detector is therefore likely to augment the current information provided by automated defibrillators and to allow for more precise verbal prompting of lay rescuers.
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