Rehabilitation for Survivors of Cardiac Arrest Focused on Fatigue

2019-10-09 09:21:33 | BioPortfolio


More people are surviving a cardiac arrest due to improvements in bystander resuscitation and acute hospital care. However, many survivors of cardiac arrest are left with physical, mental and social problems impacting negatively on their quality of life. At present there are no specialist interventions for survivors of cardiac arrest in Denmark and very few have been evaluated internationally. Rehabilitation for people after cardiac events or brain injury have shown significant physical and mental well-being benefits, indicating the same may be true for survivors of cardiac arrest.

This pilot study will test the feasibility and acceptability of a residential rehabilitation intervention focused on fatigue, and the physical, mental and social consequences of cardiac arrest. In addition, the pilot study will discover if the intervention has any effect on self-report measures, including fatigue, mental well-being and activity of the survivors of cardiac arrest who participate, and on the mental well-being of relatives of these survivors.


The number of people surviving a cardiac arrest is increasing every year due to advances in pre-hospital and acute medical care. In Denmark, one year survival after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest improved from 4-13% between 2001 and 2014; this amounts to at least 500 new survivors every year. But after the acute phase ends, many survivors of cardiac arrest (SCA) suffer an uncertain future. Most SCA will have a new or ongoing cardiac condition. They may suffer from mental trauma due to surviving a near death experience. Further, reduced oxygen levels to the brain during a cardiac arrest, can cause brain injury in up to 50% of SCA. This combination of cardiac, traumatic and neurological factors causes survivors to suffer from a wide range of physical, psychological and cognitive problems impacting negatively on their quality of life. Relatives of SCA have also been found to suffer from emotional problems due to becoming a carer for their loved one.

Normally in Denmark, a patient population with such a heavy burden, like SCA and their relatives would receive help to restore them to daily life but at present there are no specialist rehabilitation interventions provided for SCA in Denmark.

Research involving rehabilitation interventions for people after brain injury or cardiac events has shown significant physical, psychological and quality of life benefits, indicating the same may be true for SCA. The European Resuscitation Council and other international experts recommend all SCA receive rehabilitation tailored to their needs but very few research studies exist on which to base the design of these rehabilitation interventions.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) in the United Kingdom state that in clinical research there is too strong a focus on the main evaluation of an intervention. This means inadequate development and piloting work, leading to weaker interventions that are less likely to be implemented. Before performing large-scale testing of an intervention, the MRC advocates a systematic development phase that tests the feasibility of the new intervention.

Though examination of current literature and workshops with researchers, clinicians, survivors of cardiac arrest and their relatives a new comprehensive rehabilitation intervention has been developed.

The objectives of this study are to, firstly, test the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention. Secondly, to determine the effect of the intervention on patient reported outcomes covering fatigue, physical activity, psychological well-being and quality of life. In addition, the effect of the intervention on the mental well-being of any relatives who take part in the intervention.

Recruitment will take place via publicity through REHPA, the five cardiac centers in Denmark and via the Danish Heart Foundation. Potential participants will apply via an application form and be screened by the research team for eligibility.

Study Design


Cardiac Arrest With Successful Resuscitation


SCARF (Survivors of Cardiac Arrest Rehabilitation focused on Fatigue)


REHPA The Danish Knowledge Center for Rehabilitation and Palliative Care




Odense University Hospital

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2019-10-09T09:21:33-0400

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