Clinical review: Reappraising the concept of immediate defibrillatory attempts for out-of-hospital ventricular fibrillation

Paul E. Pepe, Raymond L. Fowler, Lynn P. Roppolo, Jane G. Wigginton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Despite well developed emergency medical services with rapid response advanced life support capabilities, survival rates following out-of-hospital ventricular fibrillation (VF) have remained bleak in many venues. Generally, these poor resuscitation rates are attributed to delays in the performance of basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation by bystanders or delays in defibrillation, but recent laboratory data suggest that the current standard of immediately providing a countershock as the first therapeutic intervention may be detrimental when VF is prolonged beyond several minutes. Several studies now suggest that when myocardial energy supplies begin to dwindle following more prolonged periods of VF, improvements in coronary artery perfusion must first be achieved in order to prime the heart for successful return of spontaneous circulation after defibrillation. Therefore, before countershocks, certain pharmacologic and/or mechanical interventions might take precedence during resuscitative efforts. This evolving concept has been substantiated recently by clinical studies, including a controlled clinical trial, demonstrating a significant improvement in survival when basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation is provided for several minutes before the initial countershock. Although this evolving concept differs from current standards and may pose a potential problem for automated defibrillator initiatives (e.g. public access defibrillation), successful defibrillation and return of spontaneous circulation have been rendered more predictable by evolving technologies that can score the VF waveform signal and differentiate between those who can be shocked immediately and those who should receive other interventions first.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-45
Number of pages5
JournalCritical Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Advanced cardiac life support
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Cardiopulmonary arrest
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Countershock
  • Defibrillation
  • Median frequency
  • Resuscitation
  • Scaling exponents
  • Spectrum analysis
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Ventricular fibrillation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Clinical review: Reappraising the concept of immediate defibrillatory attempts for out-of-hospital ventricular fibrillation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this