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Background-: It is recommended that comatose survivors of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest should be cooled to 32[degrees] to 34[degrees]C for 12 to 24 hours. However, the optimal level of cooling is unknown. The aim of this pilot study was to obtain initial data on the effect of different levels of hypothermia. We hypothesized that deeper temperatures will be associated with better survival and neurological outcome.

Methods and Results-: Patients were eligible if they had a witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest from March 2008 to August 2011. Target temperature was randomly assigned to 32[degrees]C or 34[degrees]C. Enrollment was stratified on the basis of the initial rhythm as shockable or asystole. The target temperature was maintained during 24 hours followed by 12 to 24 hours of controlled rewarming. The primary outcome was survival free from severe dependence (Barthel Index score >=60 points) at 6 months. Thirty-six patients were enrolled in the trial (26 shockable rhythm, 10 asystole), with 18 assigned to 34[degrees]C and 18 to 32[degrees]C. Eight of 18 patients in the 32[degrees]C group (44.4%) met the primary end point compared with 2 of 18 in the 34[degrees]C group (11.1%) (log-rank P=0.12). All patients whose initial rhythm was asystole died before 6 months in both groups. Eight of 13 patients with initial shockable rhythm assigned to 32[degrees]C (61.5%) were alive free from severe dependence at 6 months compared with 2 of 13 (15.4%) assigned to 34[degrees]C (log-rank P=0.029). The incidence of complications was similar in both groups except for the incidence of clinical seizures, which was lower (1 versus 11; P=0.0002) in patients assigned to 32[degrees]C compared with 34[degrees]C. On the contrary, there was a trend toward a higher incidence of bradycardia (7 versus 2; P=0.054) in patients assigned to 32[degrees]C. Although potassium levels decreased to a greater extent in patients assigned to 32[degrees]C, the incidence of hypokalemia was similar in both groups.

Conclusions-: The findings of this pilot trial suggest that a lower cooling level may be associated with a better outcome in patients surviving out-of-hospital cardiac arrest secondary to a shockable rhythm. The benefits observed here merit further investigation in a larger trial in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients with different presenting rhythms.

Clinical Trial Registration-: URL: Unique identifier: NCT01155622.

(C) 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.