The effectiveness of CPR isn't compromised when EMS crews and others take recommended safety precautions against the new coronavirus, researchers say.
Interim guidance issued by the American Heart Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says health care providers should take extra precautions during the pandemic. That includes using personal protective equipment and other protocols when administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to patients at risk of cardiac arrest.
This guidance has been widely adopted during emergencies involving patients with known or suspected COVID-19.
But concerns have also been raised about whether the guidance puts added strain on health care providers and whether the use of additional protective equipment reduces the effectiveness of CPR.
To answer those questions, the researchers analyzed outcomes among patients who received CPR at a Kentucky medical center from March to May of 2019 and between March and June 2020.
None of the 41 patients in the 2019 group had COVID-19. Of 53 patients in the 2020 group, 10 had COVID-19 and 43 did not.
On average, CPR continued for significantly more time for the COVID-19 patients. But there was no significant difference in survival rates during the event that required CPR (for example, a heart or breathing emergency): 50% among those with COVID-19 and 64% among those without COVID-19.
However, only one patient with COVID-19 (10%) survived to hospital discharge, compared to 25% of patients without COVID-19, the study found.
Outcomes for patients in 2019 and 2020 were similar, which suggests that additional safety precautions taken by health care professionals because of the pandemic don't harm the quality of CPR, the researchers concluded.
The findings are to be presented at a virtual meeting of the American Heart Association Nov. 14 to 16. Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
"The increased precautions taken by health care professionals are for their own safety and for the safety of other patients in the hospital, and help the greater community," said lead author Priyanka Sheth, a graduate student at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.
"Based upon this analysis, the use of equipment such as N-95 face masks, face shields and protective gowns do not appear to be degrading the quality of patient care, at least specifically during CPR procedures," Sheth said in a heart association news release.
The American Heart Association has more on CPR.
SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Nov. 9, 2020