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Cardiac arrest patients in Warwickshire may be given ‘dummy’ drug

West Midlands Ambulance Service will be administering a placebo drug instead of adrenaline to half its cardiac arrest patients during a trial from this autumn.

West Midlands Ambulance Service will be administering a placebo drug instead of adrenaline to half its cardiac arrest patients during a trial from this autumn.

Ambulance staff who come to the aid of people across Warwickshire who have suffered a cardiac arrest may give patients a ‘dummy’ drug instead of adrenaline.

The West Midlands Ambulance Service, which serves Warwickshire, has agreed to take part in a Warwick University medical trial which is being launched following concerns that adrenaline may cause severe brain damage and may not help overall survival.

As part of the trial, which starts in the autumn, ambulance staff will inject roughly half of its cardiac arrest patients with adrenaline and the others with a salt solution placebo.

But the patients will not be able to give their consent as to whether they wish to take part, as they would be unconscious.

The ambulance trust’s medical director Dr Andy Carson said: “Although adrenaline has been used for many years in cardiac arrest management, there is growing evidence that it may result in poorer outcomes for patients, hence the need for a trial.

“We know that a number of survivors of cardiac arrest suffer from brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. Developments in brain imaging are now suggesting that the use of adrenaline, whilst helping to restart the heart, may cause more harm than good, as it is known to cause brain damage in a number of cases.”

He said cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation will still be used as normal, while patients with conditions requiring adrenaline will continue to receive it. Those who have suffered heart attacks will not be affected as adrenaline is not currently used in their treatment.

Dr Carson added: “Taking part in this trial is important as it could save the lives of literally hundreds of patients over the coming years.”

Other ambulance trusts across the country will also be taking part in the trial.

 

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