Project to search for cardiac arrest
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Project to search for cardiac arrest causes

The European Sudden Cardiac Arrest network (ESCAPE-NET) has been created to find sudden cardiac arrest causes and compare treatments.

ESCAPE-NET is supported by the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA), a registered branch of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), and the European Resuscitation Council (ERC).

Sudden cardiac arrest causes around 20% of all deaths in Europe.

ESCAPE-NET project leader Dr Hanno Tan, said: “We can only prevent sudden cardiac arrest if we know what causes it.

“Studying cardiac arrest is challenging because it happens suddenly and unexpectedly. Progression is rapid and patients are often dead within ten minutes.”

In ESCAPE-NET, 16 scientific teams across Europe are combining their expertise and patient populations to create a database of sudden cardiac arrest occurring in the community that is sufficiently large to study causes, treatments, and prevention strategies. The database is set to include more than 80,000 sudden cardiac arrest patients and over 20,000 DNA samples.

The search for the causes of sudden cardiac arrest will include acquired factors (such as lifestyle, comorbidities, and medication use), genetic factors, and environmental factors.

The search for treatments will analyse the effectiveness of existing resuscitation strategies and investigate what determines whether or not a patient survives.

Tan added: “It’s quite conceivable that a diabetic person has a lower survival rate even though he or she has been resuscitated just as fast as a person without diabetes.

“Similarly, a particular genetic factor may increase or decrease the likelihood of survival.

“These questions have not been studied before.

“In this consortium we bring both groups together which enables us to examine new questions, such as whether there is a person-related factor – a comorbidity or DNA profile – that influences the survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest. This synergy should allow us to make exciting advances in this field that were not possible before.”