Older Nursing Home Residents Have a Cardiac Arrest Survival Rate Similar to That of Older Persons Living in the Community

H. F. Ghusn, T. A. Teasdale, P. E. Pepe, V. F. Ginger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To determine the survival rates of older nursing home residents after cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and to compare it with that of older persons who experienced cardiac arrest in an outpatient setting. To identify patient characteristics, arrest characteristics, and effort characteristics that are associated with higher survival rates. DESIGN: Retrospective review of emergency medical service charts and hospital medical records of a cohort of older nursing home residents (n = 114) after cardiopulmonary resuscitation and a matched cohort of community‐residing older persons (n = 228) matched on age, gender, and year of cardiac arrest. SETTING: A large metropolitan city served by a tiered emergency medical service. MEASUREMENTS: Independent variables related to patient, cardiac arrest, and resuscitation effort characteristics. Dependent variables were defined as immediate survival after cardiopulmonary resuscitation and survival status at discharge. RESULTS: The mean age of nursing home residents was 80.3 years; 62.3% were females. The majority of cardiac arrests for both groups were unwitnessed (67%) and had agonal rhythms (asystole and electromechanical dissociation). Emergency medical service efforts were similar for the two cohorts. Among nursing home residents, 26.3% had a return of blood pressure for more than 5 minutes, 70.2% were pronounced dead in the emergency room, and 10.5% were discharged from hospitals alive. In the matched community‐residing subjects, 22.7% had a return of blood pressure, 78.1% were pronounced dead in the emergency room, and 9.2% were discharged alive. Between‐group comparisons of these variables revealed no significant differences even though our sample size was adequate. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that survival after cardiac arrest of older persons residing in nursing homes is low; however, with an appropriate CPR/DNR selection process and an effective emergency medical system, survival of certain groups of nursing home residents following cardiac arrest could be comparable to that of community‐residing older persons. Despite the reasonably good survival rates for older persons seen above, our analyses indicated that patients who have unwitnessed arrests are not likely to survive to discharge and that patients with initial rhythms such as asystole or electromechanical dissociation rarely survive. These data suggest that patients who have an unwitnessed arrest in the nursing home should not receive resuscitation attempts, and in those patients for whom paramedics are called, resuscitation efforts should not proceed any further if their original rhythm is asystole or electromechanical dissociation. Thus, modification in nursing home policies regarding CPR efforts is needed. 1995 The American Geriatrics Society

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)520-527
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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