Cardiac Arrest Prognosis

Every year, around 450,000 Americans suffer a cardiac arrest. Of these, nearly 80% occur outside of the hospital setting, usually while the person is at home or at work. The death rate for these out-of-hospital cardiac arrests is at least 90% and of those who do survive, over half have permanent brain damage to some degree.

Among those who experience cardiac arrest while they are inside hospital, patient outcomes are improved due to the availability of defibrillation equipment and medical attention.

Factors affecting prognosis

There are several factors that influence the outcome or prognosis of a patient after a cardiac arrest.

These include:

Patient factors

Patient factors are those that are unique to the patient such as age, gender, lifestyle habits and co-morbidity. The chance of survival tends to be lower in older individuals, males and individuals who smoke, for example. The presence of other medical conditions such as blood infection, renal failure, metastatic cancer or stroke also have a negative impact on patient outcome.

Event-related factors

Factors relating to the cardiac arrest itself are also associated with patient outcome. Examples include:

First monitored rhythm of the heart

If ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia is detected on the first electrocardiogram after the event, the chances of survival are 18% to 64%. For other rhythms, the chances of survival are much lower, ranging from 1.2% to 14%. VF/VT rhythms have a better outcome because they can be treated promptly and successfully with defibrillation.

In addition, the fact that there is a VF or VT indicates that the arrest has begun recently because, if VF or VT is not treated immediately, the heart next becomes asystole and does not pump at all.

Event duration

Patients with a shorter duration of cardiac arrest have a better prognosis and chance of survival than those with a longer duration of arrest. Shorter arrests are easily treatable and cause less damage to the tissues and vital organs.

Hospital location

The duration of cardiac arrest is usually much shorter when individuals live near to a hospital they can access, where medics can quickly intervene.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Feb 26, 2019

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Mandal, Ananya. (2019, February 26). Cardiac Arrest Prognosis. News-Medical. Retrieved on February 03, 2023 from

  • MLA

    Mandal, Ananya. "Cardiac Arrest Prognosis". News-Medical. 03 February 2023. <>.

  • Chicago

    Mandal, Ananya. "Cardiac Arrest Prognosis". News-Medical. (accessed February 03, 2023).

  • Harvard

    Mandal, Ananya. 2019. Cardiac Arrest Prognosis. News-Medical, viewed 03 February 2023,


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
You might also like...
Survival rates increased among children who experienced in-hospital cardiac arrest in the last 20 years