Tens of thousands more people than previously believed may be having cardiac arrests in hospitals, a new analysis says.

Researchers estimate about 292 000 adult in-hospital cardiac arrests happen in the United States each year. That’s 38% higher than earlier estimates. The numbers come from a model developed for estimating cardiac arrests, using data from two American Heart Association registries.

The reason for the change is not clear.

“Unfortunately, the data does not provide an explanation for the increase in adult in-hospital cardiac arrest,” study co-author Dr Lars W. Andersen said in a news release, “but it is likely due to many factors and may reflect an increase in actual events or in the reporting of cases over time.”

The study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, also estimated 15 200 “in-hospital events” involved children. Of those, 7100 cases were cardiac arrests where the patient had no pulse, and 8100 were cases where the patient had a pulse but still required CPR.

Compared to previous reports, the number of pulseless paediatric in-hospital cardiac arrests is approximately 18% higher in the new study. Researchers found no indication the number of such events has increased over time; the new estimates are based on a larger database.

In 2011, the last time cardiac arrest data from the two registries was analysed, the estimate was 211 000 in-hospital cardiac arrests in adults and 6,000 in children.

Andersen said the findings may suggest basic life support and advanced cardiac life support training programmes – which traditionally have focused on out-of-hospital resuscitation – may need to be expanded to include potential in-hospital responders.

Source: https://www.heart.org/en/news/2019/07/09/cardiac-arrests-in-hospitals-may-be-more-common-than-previously-thought

Reference: Holmberg MJ, et al. Annual Incidence of Adult and Pediatric In-Hospital Cardiac Arrest in the United States. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. Published 1 July 2019.