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Introduction: Understanding opioids and their potential to cause cardiac arrests is integral in learning how to lower mortality rates in patients who overdose on them. Few studies have specifically examined the association of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests with opioid overdoses. We hypothesized that cardiac arrests caused by opioid overdoses will result in longer hospital stays and a higher mortality rate than other cardiac arrests.

Methods: This study is a secondary analysis of data from the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival. Data regarding 35 patients who presented to Jefferson and Methodist hospitals with out-of-hospital cardiac arrests due to opioid overdose was compared to 43 patients who presented to these hospitals with an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest due to cardiac etiologies. The outcomes studied were mortality rate and length of hospital stay, analyzed using a Chi square test and an unpaired t-test, respectively.

Results: The mortality rate of the patients in the opioid overdose group (94.29%) was not significantly different than that of patients in the cardiac etiology group (93.02%) (p=0.820886). The length of hospital stay for the opioid group (mean = 1.71 days) was likewise not significantly different than that of the cardiac etiology group (mean = 2.74 days) (p = 0.2556).

Discussion: The results do not support the hypothesis. This does not discount the severity of the opioid crisis, but instead suggests that opioid-induced cardiac arrests are not necessarily more severe than other cardiac arrests. A larger sample size would ultimately give a more robust comparison of these two groups of cardiac arrest patients.