Glucocorticoids as an Emerging Pharmacologic Agent for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
Varvarousis, Dimitrios P.
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Although cardiac arrest (CA) constitutes a major health problem with dismal prognosis, no specific drug therapy has been shown to improve survival to hospital discharge. CA causes adrenal insufficiency which is associated with poor outcome and increased mortality. Adrenal insufficiency may manifest as an inability to increase cortisol secretion during and after cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Several studies suggest that glucocorticoids during and after CPR seem to confer benefits with respect to return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) rates and long term survival. They have beneficial hemodynamic effects that may favor their use during CPR and in the early post-resuscitation period. Moreover, they have anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic properties that improve organ function by reducing ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. However, glucocorticoid supplementation has shown conflicting results with regard to survival to hospital discharge and neurological outcome. The purpose of this article is to review the pathophysiology of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis during CPR. Furthermore, this article reviews the effects of glucocorticoids use during CRP and the post-resuscitation phase.