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Role of thrombolytic agents in cardiac arrest
  1. D K Pedley1,
  2. W G Morrison2
  1. 1Department of Academic Emergency Medicine, James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, UK
  2. 2Accident and Emergency Department, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 D Pedley
 Department of Academic Emergency Medicine, James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough TS4 3BW, UK; dpedley{at}


The prognosis of patients having a cardiac arrest is generally poor, with a few exceptions. Interventions that aim to improve outcome in cardiac arrest have proved to be disappointing. In particular, no drug has been reliably proved to increase survival to discharge after cardiac arrest. Given that coronary thrombosis in situ and pulmonary thromboembolism are implicated in a large proportion of patients with cardiac arrest, the use of thrombolytic agents has been suggested. Case reports and animal studies have shown favourable results, and have proposed plausible mechanisms to explain them. This is a review of the current literature focusing on the use of thrombolysis during cardiac arrest. A comprehensive literature search was carried out on Medline from 1966 to January 2006, Embase from 1988 to January 2006 and the Cochrane Library, using the Ovid interface. Six articles were selected for review. Although some results are encouraging, all the studies currently available are limited by size and flaws in design.

  • CPR, cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • PEA, pulseless electrical activity
  • PTE, pulmonary thromboembolism
  • ROSC, return of spontaneous circulation
  • t-PA, tissue-type plasminogen activator

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  • Competing interests: None.