A new research trial starts this month to try and build up evidence around the role of lactate in cardiac arrests.

A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating.  NHS ambulance services attend approximately 30,000 such incidents annually to provide a treatment called resuscitation.  Despite the efforts of the ambulance services, less than one in ten people currently survive.

When a patient’s heart stops, their body becomes deprived of oxygen.  This lack of oxygen results in a rise of lactic acid (lactate) which, when present in sufficient levels, may be able to predict the patient’s likelihood of survival.  The research to find this out was conducted in hospital, however there is currently no evidence to suggest whether a lactate measured in the ambulance would produce the same results. 

It is possible to measure lactate accurately and rapidly in the ambulance using a small sample of blood and a small hand-held device.  Results are available within seconds and may be valuable to the paramedic when making decisions regarding treatment.

North East Ambulance Service is therefore undertaking a small feasibility study in the Newcastle area to test if a lactate reading taken during a resuscitation attempt by a paramedic can predict a patient’s likelihood of surviving to hospital. 

All cardiac arrest patients who are aged 18 years or over, are not pregnant and have an out of hospital cardiac arrest in the Newcastle area may be involved in this research, unless they contact us to opt out.

A team of specialist paramedics have been trained to use the hand-held device and will take a lactate reading from all cardiac arrest patients who meet this criteria, alongside normal treatment. Each patient will then be followed up 30 days later using data already collected by the ambulance service.

The evidence collected during this study will then be used to decide whether a larger piece of research would be beneficial.

If you would like more information about this research or if you decide you do not wish to participate, please contact the chief investigator Karl Charlton on or telephone 0191 430 2294.

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