Survivors of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Presenting With Pulseless Electrical Activity: Clinical Substrate, Triggers, Long-Term Prognosis

Lauri Holmstrom, Shiva Salmasi, Harpriya Chugh, Audrey Uy-Evanado, Chad Sorenson, Ziana Bhanji, Madison Seifer, Arayik Sargsyan, Angelo Salvucci, Jonathan Jui, Kyndaron Reinier, Sumeet S. Chugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The proportion of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) presenting as pulseless electrical activity (PEA) is rising, and survival remains low. The pathophysiology of PEA-SCA is poorly understood, and current clinical practice lacks specific options for the management of survivors. Objectives: In this study, the authors sought to investigate clinical profile, triggers, and long-term prognosis in survivors of SCA presenting with PEA. Methods: The community-based Oregon SUDS (Sudden Unexpected Death Study) (since 2002) and Ventura PRESTO (Prediction of Sudden Death in Multi-ethnic Communities) (since 2015) studies prospectively ascertain all out-of-hospital SCAs of likely cardiac etiology. Lifetime clinical history and detailed evaluation of SCA events is available. We evaluated all SCA survivors with PEA as the presenting rhythm. Results: The study population included 201 PEA-SCA survivors. Of these, 97 could be contacted for access to their clinical records. Among the latter, the mean age was 67 ± 17 years and 58 (60%) were male. After in-hospital examinations, 29 events (30%) were associated with acute myocardial infarction, and 5 (5%) had bradyarrhythmias. Among the remaining 63 patients (65%), specific triggers remained undetermined, although 31 (49%) had a previous history of heart failure. Of the 201 overall survivors, 91 (45%) were deceased after a mean follow-up of 4.2 ± 4.0 years. Survivors under the age of 40 years had an excellent long-term prognosis. Conclusions: Survivors of PEA-SCA are a heterogeneous group with high prevalence of multiple comorbidities, especially heart failure. Surprisingly good long-term survival was observed in young individuals. Acute myocardial infarction as the precipitating event was common, but triggers remained undetermined in the majority. Provision of individualized care to PEA survivors requires a renewed investigative focus on PEA-SCA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1260-1270
Number of pages11
JournalJACC: Clinical Electrophysiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • acute myocardial infarction
  • heart failure
  • prognosis
  • pulseless electrical activity
  • sudden cardiac arrest
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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