For every 100 inpatient cardiac arrests, approximately 45 will be successfully resuscitated and achieve return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) but only around 17 are likely to survive to discharge from hospital (Gwinnutt et al. 2000).

The degree of existing acute and chronic disease and also the damage caused by the arrest will both influence short- and long-term survival; however, early recognition of problems coupled with a rapid response will increase the likelihood of a successful outcome (Langhelle et al. 2003). Post-resuscitation care should be thought of as continued resuscitation care and aims to stabilise cardiac performance, optimise tissue perfusion to the vital organs and minimise brain damage.

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