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Bystander interventions and survival after exercise-related sudden cardiac arrest: a systematic review


Objective To evaluate the provision of bystander interventions and rates of survival after exercise-related sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

Design Systematic review.

Data sources MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, Cochrane Library and grey literature sources were searched from inception to November/December 2020.

Study eligibility criteria Observational studies assessing a population of exercise-related SCA (out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that occurred during exercise or within 1 hour of cessation of activity), where bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and/or automated external defibrillator (AED) use were reported, and survival outcomes were ascertained.

Methods Among all included studies, the median (IQR) proportions of bystander CPR and bystander AED use, as well as median (IQR) rate of survival to hospital discharge, were calculated.

Results A total of 29 studies were included in this review, with a median study duration of 78.7 months and a median sample size of 91. Most exercise-related SCA patients were male (median: 92%, IQR: 86%–96%), middle-aged (median: 51, IQR: 39–56 years), and presented with a shockable arrest rhythm (median: 78%, IQR: 62%–86%). Bystander CPR was initiated in a median of 71% (IQR: 59%–87%) of arrests, whereas bystander AED use occurred in a median of 31% (IQR: 19%–42%) of arrests. Among the 19 studies that reported survival to hospital discharge, the median rate of survival was 32% (IQR: 24%–49%). Studies which evaluated the relationship between bystander interventions and survival outcomes reported that both bystander CPR and AED use were associated with survival after exercise-related SCA.

Conclusion Exercise-related SCA occurs predominantly in males and presents with a shockable ventricular arrhythmia in most cases, emphasising the importance of rapid access to defibrillation. Further efforts are needed to promote early recognition and a rapid bystander response to exercise-related SCA.

  • exercise
  • athletes
  • resuscitation
  • survival
  • heart

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