Blinded Evaluation of Combination Drug Therapy for Prolonged Ventricular Fibrillation Using a Swine Model of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Document Type


Publication Title

Prehospital Emergency Care


Despite experimental evidence supporting the use of resuscitation drugs in the treatment of sudden cardiac arrest (CA), there are no good human clinical data to support the decades-old practice of giving these medications during out-of-hospital CA resuscitation. We hypothesized that the lack of efficacy in clinical practice in ventricular fibrillation (VF) is the failure-based manner in which resuscitation drugs have historically been administered (one at a time interspersed with chest compressions and a defibrillation attempt, giving the next only if the previous one was ineffective). The aim of this study was to determine if giving and circulating a combination of commonly available, historically used resuscitation drugs together, prior to the first defibrillation attempt after prolonged VF, might improve short-term outcomes compared with the failure-based serial drug approach used in the past. We used a well-established swine model of sudden prolonged untreated VF. Animals were randomized to receive epinephrine (0.01 mg/kg), vasopressin (0.5 U/kg), amiodarone (4 mg/kg), and sodium bicarbonate (1.0 mEq/kg) in series (SERIES group [n = 53]) or a combination of epinephrine (0.01 mg/kg), vasopressin (0.5 U/kg), amiodarone (4 mg/kg), sodium bicarbonate (1.0 mEq/kg), and metoprolol (0.2 mg/kg) (COCKTAIL group) delivered in rapid succession at the beginning of the attempted resuscitation (n = 27). Data were analyzed descriptively. Baseline characteristics and chemistries between the two groups were the same. Termination of VF was statistically similar in the two groups: 88.7% (47/53) versus 85.2% (23/27) p = 0.66, with an adjusted relative risk ratio (RRR) of 0.94 (0.37, 1.15). However, ROSC was higher in the SERIES group (56.6% [30/53] versus 22.2% [6/27], adjusted RRR = 2.83; [1.16, 3.84] p = 0.029) as was 20-minute survival (52.8% [28/53] versus 18.5% [5/27], adjusted RRR = 3.15 [1.14, 4.54] p = 0.032). The combination of drugs studied, at these dosages, inexplicably worsened short-term outcomes after prolonged untreated VF.



Publication Date



cardiac arrest, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, drug therapy