Introduction

The most important intervention in successful resuscitation is defibrillation and nothing should delay this. Where defibrillation has failed to restore circulation for ventricular fibrillation (VF) or pulseless ventricular tachycardia (VT), and where it is not indicated, there are a number of drugs that may be given to support or improve myocardial performance. Three of these, adrenaline/epinephrine, atropine and amiodarone, are currently included within the advanced life support (ALS) universal algorithm. Other drugs may be given for specific indications before, during and after cardiac arrest. Even if few drugs are supported by strong evidence (Baskett 2000), the body of research is growing (Lockey & Nolan 2001, Madrid & Sendlebach 2001). Given the increasingly international collaboration in this field, American names for drugs are often employed. Epinephrine is the term for adrenaline and lidocaine is used for lignocaine.

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