Antiarrhythmic drugs like lidocaine are usually given to promote return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) during ongoing out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) from ventricular fibrillation/tachycardia (VF/VT). Whether administering such drugs prophylactically for post-resuscitation care after ROSC prevents re-arrest and improves outcome is unstudied.
We evaluated a cohort of 1721 patients with witnessed VF/VT OHCA who did (1296) or did not receive prophylactic lidocaine (425) at first ROSC. Study endpoints included re-arrest, hospital admission and survival.
Prophylacic lidocaine recipients and non-recipients were comparable, except for shorter time to first ROSC and higher systolic blood pressure at ROSC in those receiving lidocaine. After initial ROSC, arrest from VF/VT recurred in 16.7% and from non-shockable arrhythmias in 3.2% of prophylactic lidocaine recipients, 93.5% of whom were admitted to hospital and 62.4% discharged alive, as compared with 37.4%, 7.8%, 84.9% and 44.5%, of corresponding non-recipients (all p<0.0001). Adjusted for pertinent covariates, prophylactic lidocaine was independently associated with reduced odds of re-arrest from VF/VT, odds ratio, (95% confidence interval) 0.34 (0.26-0.44) and from nonshockable arrhythmias (0.47 (0.29-0.78)); a higher hospital admission rate (1.88, (1.28-2.76)) and improved survival to discharge (1.49 (1.15-1.95)). However in a propensity score-matched sensitivity analysis, lidocaine's only beneficial association with outcome was in a lower incidence of recurrent VF/VT arrest.
Administration of prophylactic lidocaine upon ROSC after OHCA was consistently associated with less recurrent VF/VT arrest, and therapeutic equipoise for other measures. The prospect of a promising association between lidocaine prophylaxis and outcome, without evidence of harm, warrants further investigation.