Thames Valley Air ambulance

‘E-CPR’ service could help hospital save more lives

Image credit: Thames Valley Air ambulance

A new service will take patients to Harefield Hospital by Thames Valley Air Ambulance to receive 'E-CPR'.

London's Harefield Hospital is currently treating some inpatients with a new type of “advanced” CPR which involves hooking up patients to an artificial lung machine. 

Now the hospital is looking to make the technology accessible to many more people. In a new service, people who suffer a cardiac arrest could be offered E-CPR if they do not respond to traditional CPR. 

The service, the first of its kind in the UK, will see patients taken to Harefield Hospital - a specialist heart and lung hospital in Hillingdon - by Thames Valley Air Ambulance. Once there, the patients will be hooked up to an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine. 

The ECMO machine is able to pump blood through an artificial lung outside the body when a person's own circulatory system does not function properly.

Doctors hope that patients can be hooked up to the machine within 60 minutes of the cardiac arrest to give people the best chance of survival.

“A cardiac arrest is a medical emergency where a person’s heart has suddenly stopped pumping blood around the body," said Dr Waqas Akhtar, registrar in cardiology and intensive care at Harefield Hospital and one of the developers of the service. 

“An ECMO machine takes over the function of a patient’s heart and lungs by taking deoxygenated blood out of the patient and inserting oxygenated blood back into them.

“This new service, combining CPR with placing patients on ECMO, has the potential to save more lives than we are able to do with CPR alone.”

Dr James Raitt, research lead at Thames Valley Air Ambulance, added: “Our critical care crews have been trained to quickly identify the patients who will benefit the most from E-CPR and then enact our procedures for ensuring the patient arrives as quickly as possible for the treatment.”

According to a small study conducted in 2020, the advanced treatment can improve survival rates among patients compared to standard CPR.

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