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BACKGROUND: Prospective data on pre-cordial thump (PT), one of the fastest possible resuscitative manoeuvres, are scant, particularly in out-of-hospital (OOH) cardiac arrest (CA). METHODS: In this study, conducted in the Pordenone-province (north-east Italy), suspected OOH-CA victims were connected to a cardiac monitor and, upon confirmation of CA, subjected to a swift PT before any other resuscitatory intervention, without notable delay in other procedures. Investigation targets were: (i) effects on heart rhythm, (ii) return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC), (iii) hospital discharge, (iv) presence of adverse effects. Outcomes were additionally grouped by presenting rhythms into ventricular tachyarrhythmias (CA(VF/VT)), pulseless electrical activity (CA(PEA)), and asystole (CA(AS)). RESULTS: Out of 144 OOH-CA cases, PT had no effect on heart rhythm in 138 patients (CA(VF/VT)-23/24; CA(PEA)-41/42; CA(AS)-74/78). In 112 of the 138 non-responders, ROSC was neither achieved by other interventions (CA(VF/VT)-13/23; CA(PEA)-38/41; CA(AS)-61/74); overall survival was 5.6% (CA(VF/VT)-16.7%; CA(PEA)-0%; CA(AS)-5.1%). PT caused ROSC in 3 patients with witnessed CA(AS) (time-to-intervention <3 min), representing one quarter of ROSC among witnessed CA victims. Survival of PT-induced ROSC patients (2/3) was certainly no worse than among PT-irresponsive ROSC patients (6 of 28). Overall, one quarter of patients, discharged from hospital, had been resuscitated by PT. No adverse effects of PT were observed. CONCLUSIONS: PT can be combined with standard resuscitatory interventions without significant time-delay or apparent side effects. PT efficacy in CA(VF/VT) and CA(PEA) is lacking. However, PT may offer potential for the increasing proportion of asystolic OOH-CA, in particular when witnessed.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





17 - 23


Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, Emergency Medical Services, Female, Heart Arrest, Humans, Italy, Male, Middle Aged, Patient Discharge, Physical Stimulation, Prospective Studies, Survival Analysis, Treatment Outcome