What is Cardiac Arrest
Cardiac arrest is a disease when someone's heart stops. It is the most common cause of death in North America, resulting in approximately 300,000 deaths each year. In the Pittsburgh region alone, approximately 1000 patients experience cardiac arrest annually. In many settings, without detailed care, patients may not survive.
The initial treatment for this disease is cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). However, as there are many reasons that a patient's heart may stop and as patients can suffer brain injury from this event, treatment must also be targeted towards the cause of the cardiac arrest as well as brain resuscitation (neuroresuscitation). Additionally, a variety of physiologic changes can occur after cardiac arrest. Individual patients can experience none, some, or all of these changes.
The Post Cardiac Arrest Service (PCAS) at UPMC Presbyterian is dedicated to providing specialized care to these patients and to study the resuscitation and management of all patients who survive CPR. Our physicians help coordinate the care of prehospital, emergency department, intensive care unit, cardiology, neurology, and rehabilitation providers, to ensure a unique continuity of care to the patient and their families. We use aggressive neurocritical care, including the use of therapeutic hypothermia, usually beginning during transport to UPMC-Presbyterian. We provide advanced neuroimaging and continuous electroencephalography to help guide the neurocritical care of these patients. Because od the complex nature of this disease, we take an aggressive team approach involving cardiologists (heart doctors), neurologists (brain doctors), critical care doctors (intensivists), and rehabilitation specialists ensure the unique needs of this population are met.