Epidemiology and outcomes of cardiac arrest in pediatric cardiac ICUs

Jeffrey A. Alten, Darren Klugman, Tia T. Raymond, David S. Cooper, Janet E. Donohue, Wenying Zhang, Sara K. Pasquali, Michael G. Gaies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Objectives: In-hospital cardiac arrest occurs in 2.6-6% of children with cardiac disease and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Much remains unknown about cardiac arrest in pediatric cardiac ICUs; therefore, we aimed to describe cardiac arrest epidemiology in a contemporary multicenter cardiac ICU cohort. Design: Retrospective analysis within the Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Consortium clinical registry. Setting: Cardiac ICUs within 23 North American hospitals. Patients: All cardiac medical and surgical patients admitted from August 2014 to July 2016. Interventions: None. Measurements and Main Results: There were 15,908 cardiac ICU encounters (6,498 medical, 9,410 surgical). 3.1% had cardiac arrest; rate was 4.8 cardiac arrest per 1,000 cardiac ICU days. Medical encounters had 50% higher rate of cardiac arrest compared with surgical encounters. Observed (unadjusted) cardiac ICU cardiac arrest prevalence varied from 1% to 5.5% among the 23 centers; cardiac arrest per 1,000 cardiac ICU days varied from 1.1 to 10.4. Over half cardiac arrest occur within 48 hours of admission. On multivariable analysis, prematurity, neonatal age, any Society of Thoracic Surgeons preoperative risk factor, and Society of Thoracic Surgeons-European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery mortality category 4, 5 had strongest association with surgical encounter cardiac arrest. In medical encounters, independent cardiac arrest risk factors were acute heart failure, prematurity, lactic acidosis greater than 3 mmol/dL, and invasive ventilation 1 hour after admission. Median cardiopulmonary resuscitation duration was 10 minutes, return of spontaneous circulation occurred in 64.5%, extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation in 27.2%. Unadjusted survival was 53.2% in encounters with cardiac arrest versus 98.2% without. Medical encounters had lower survival after cardiac arrest (37.7%) versus surgical encounters (62.5%); Norwood patients had less than half the survival after cardiac arrest (35.6%) compared with all others. Unadjusted survival after cardiac arrest varied greatly among 23 centers. Conclusions: We provide contemporary epidemiologic and outcome data for cardiac arrest occurring in the cardiac ICU from a multicenter clinical registry. As detailed above, we highlight high-risk patient cohorts and periods of time that may serve as targets for research and quality improvement initiatives aimed at cardiac arrest prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)935-943
Number of pages9
JournalPediatric Critical Care Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiac arrest
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Epidemiology
  • Mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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