The standard drug used to restart a stopped heart when electrical shocks have failed may not be the best medicine after all, according to a study in the March 21 New England Journal of Medicine. Doctors at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada, concluded the drug amiodarone works nearly twice as well as the widely used lidocaine.
"Amiodarone led to a statistically significant and relatively large improvement" in the number of people who made it to the hospital alive, according to the study. But, the doctors cautioned, although more people made it to the hospital after receiving amiodarone, the vast majority later died in the hospital--which was also the case with lidocaine. In many cases, the heart damage is so great that the patient cannot be saved.