Milwaukee Researcher Works to Find Most Effective Treatments for Cardiac Arrest

Dec 17, 2014

A volunteer teaches a couple how to perform CPR using a mannequin.
Credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On the surface, the news about Wisconsin and cardiac arrest seems good. If you go into cardiac arrest in the Milwaukee area, your chances for survival are greater than they are in most other parts of the country. 

But that only tells part of the story. The outlook for people suffering from cardiac arrest isn't good, no matter where you live.

At the same time, though, researchers here are trying to take the successes they see in Milwaukee and use them to improve the odds - here, and all over the country. The Medical College of Wisconsin is one of eleven sites nationwide picked by National Institutes of Health to evaluate the effectiveness of new ways to treat cardiac arrest.

Doctor Tom Aufderheide, a professor of emergency medicine at the Medical College, talks with Lake Effect's Mitch Teich about what we've been doing right when it comes to cardiac arrest in Milwaukee and what can be improved.

"The patient has to have treatment started immediately if there's any hope for survival, CPR quality needs to be high, defibrillation needs to occur early, and a sequence of events needs to occur in order for optimal outcome for patients," Aufderheide says.

He says it important to find more effective ways to treat cardiac arrest. "One percent improvement in survival - is roughly ten thousand people in this country who are declared dead today that would otherwise go home to their wives, their husbands, their jobs, and their families," Aufderheide adds.

According to the Medical College of Wisconsin, the first NIH study will evaluate continuous chest compressions compared to traditional CPR. And, the second will look at the use of two drugs typically administered to cardiac arrest patients by EMS responders.