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Symptoms reported in calls to emergency medical services within 24 hours prior to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest

      Abstract

      Aim

      There is limited evidence regarding prodromal symptoms of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). We aimed to describe patient characteristics, prodromal symptoms, and prognosis of patients contacting emergency medical services (EMS) within 24 hours before OHCA.

      Methods

      We identified all OHCA treated by Copenhagen EMS from 2016 through 2018 using the Danish Cardiac Arrest Registry and linked them to emergency calls. We included all pre-arrest calls by patients or bystanders if they were performed 1) within 24 hours before the OHCA call or 2) during the OHCA event for EMS-witnessed OHCA. Calls were reviewed by healthcare professionals using a survey guide.

      Results

      Among 4,071 patients, 481 patients (12 %) had 539 calls within 24 hours prior to OHCA (60 % male, median age 74 years of age). The patient spoke on the phone in 25 % of calls. The most common symptoms were breathing problems (59 %), confusion (23 %), unconsciousness (20 %), chest pain (20 %), and paleness (19 %). Patients with breathing problems compared to chest pain were more likely to be ≤ 75 years of age (55 % versus 35 %), less likely to be male (52 % versus 73 %), have shockable rhythm (10 % versus 38 %), receive bystander defibrillation (6 % versus 19 %) or EMS defibrillation (15 % versus 65 %), achieve return of spontaneous circulation (37 % versus 68 %) and survive 30 days following OHCA (10 % versus 50 %).

      Conclusion

      More than 10% of patients with OHCA had a call to EMS within 24 hours before OHCA. The most common symptom was breathing problems which compared to chest pain had lower 30-day survival.

      Keywords

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