Emerg Med J 30:38-42 doi:10.1136/emermed-2011-201035
  • Original articles

Hanging-associated out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Melbourne, Australia

  1. Peter Cameron2,3 On behalf of the VACAR Steering Committee
  1. 1Ambulance Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Conor Deasy, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, The Alfred Centre, 5th Floor, 99 Commercial Road, Melbourne 3004, Australia; conordeasy{at}
  1. Contributors All authors have made substantial contributions to all of the following: (1) the conception and design of the study, (2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content, and (3) the final approval of the version to be submitted.

  • Accepted 27 January 2012
  • Published Online First 16 March 2012


Introduction Hanging is an infrequent but devastating cause of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). We determine the characteristics and outcomes of hanging-associated OHCA in Melbourne Australia.

Methods A 10-year retrospective case review of all adult hangings (aged ≥16 years) associated with OHCA, was conducted using data from the Victorian Ambulance Cardiac Arrest Registry.

Results Between 2000 and 2009, the emergency medical service (EMS) attended 33 178 adult OHCAs of which 1321 (4%) had hanging as the aetiology. The median age (IQR) of hanging-associated OHCA cases was 39 (29–51) years and 1162 were men (88%). The first recorded rhythm by EMS was asystole seen in 1276 (75.5%) patients, pulseless electrical activity (PEA) in 38 (13.4%) cases and ventricular fibrillation in 7 cases (0.5%). EMS attempted resuscitation in 208 (15.7%) patients of whom 61 (29.3%) achieved return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) and were transported, and 7 (3.3%) survived to hospital discharge. Hanging-associated OHCAs were younger (median (IQR) 38 (29–51) years versus 74 (61–82) years, p<0.001), less likely to have a shockable rhythm (0.5% vs 17.2%, p<0.001), receive bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (14.1% vs 25.5%, p<0.001) or an attempted resuscitation by EMS (15.7% vs 36.1%, p<0.001) compared with OHCA cases with an aetiology of ‘presumed cardiac’ arrest. Multivariable logistic regression identified factors associated with EMS decision to attempt resuscitation; the adjusted OR (95% CI) for ‘presence of bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation’ was 15.8 (10.70–23.30) and for ‘witnessed arrest’ was 5.26 (1.17–23.30).

Conclusion Attempted resuscitation was not always futile with a survival of 3.3%. A preventive focus is needed.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent The VACAR cardiac arrest registry from which this data was ascertained is considered a quality assurance tool.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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0.5% - 43% response rate
3% - 41% response rate
10% - 16% response rate

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