Fatal Overdoses Often Mistaken for Cardiac Arrest- Study pub
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Deaths from drug overdose often gave the impression of being sudden cardiac death until an autopsy determined otherwise, according to a study.

Autopsy adjudication determined occult overdose actually caused death for 15% of 525 cases initially ruled as out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA), reported researchers.

With an additional 242 OHCA deaths after extending the study period, 22.3% were determined to be occult overdoses upon adjudication by an expert panel consisting of the medical examiner, a cardiac pathologist, a neurologist, and two cardiologists, reported online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The most common drug classes were opioids (68.4% and 48.1% for the initial and extended periods, respectively), sedative-hypnotics (49.4% and 51.9%), and stimulants (48.1% and 51.9%).

"Most occult overdose OHCA deaths involved multiple drugs, including opioids, and approximately one half of intoxicants were prescribed. Our findings affirm the need for continued efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and consideration of naloxone in selected OHCA resuscitations," study authors said.

People who died from overdose in the study were younger and more commonly White or Black than Asian or Latino.

Nevertheless, they cautioned that their findings may not be generalizable to other communities with different demographic characteristics and prevalence of substance use.

Source: https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M20-0977
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