Rising Incidence of Drug Overdose-Related Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest

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TUESDAY, Nov. 7, 2023 (HealthDay News) — The incidence of drug overdose-induced out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OD-OHCA) more than doubled between 2015 and 2021, according to a study published online Nov. 7 in JAMA network opened.

Vidhushei Yogeswaran, MD, from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues evaluated the temporal pattern, clinical presentation, care, and outcomes of adult patients with OHCA overall and according to the drug-specific profile. The analysis included 6,790 adult patients with emergency medical services-treated OHCA (2015 through 2021).

The researchers found that the incidence of OD-OHCA increased significantly from 5.2 per 100,000 person-years in 2015 to 13.0 per 100,000 person-years in 2021, while there was no significant temporal change in the incidence of non-OD-OHCA. OD-OHCAs are more likely to go unnoticed (66 versus 41 percent) and less likely to be shockable (8 versus 25 percent) compared to non-OD-OHCAs. No significant difference was observed in unadjusted survival (20 percent for OD versus 18 percent for non-OD). The combined opioid stimulant OHCA showed the largest relative increase in incidence. There were differences in presentation and outcomes per drug profile (e.g., patients with OHCA alone were more likely to have a shockable rhythm than patients with OHCA opioids alone (24 versus 4 percent)).

“The combination of increasing incidence and lower survival among OHCA secondary to the combined use of opioid stimulants presents an urgent need for prevention and resuscitation strategies in this population,” the authors write.

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