Long-term subjective memory function in ventricular fibrillation out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survivors resuscitated by early defibrillation

T. Jared Bunch, Roger D. White, Glenn E. Smith, David O. Hodge, Bernard J. Gersh, Stephen C. Hammill, Win Kuang Shen, Douglas L. Packer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Background: Brain injury after a cardiac arrest remains a major cause of morbidity. Programs focusing on early defibrillation have yielded improved survival of patients after hospital discharge following ventricular fibrillation (VF) out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). Early defibrillation that promptly restores a circulating rhythm should decrease the hypoxic period and subsequent organ injury. Therefore this study was designed to determine if long-term memory complaints persist in VF OHCA survivors resuscitated in an early defibrillation program when compared with a healthy control population not experiencing cardiac arrest. Methods: All patients with an OHCA between November 1990 and January 2001 who received defibrillation by emergency medical services personnel in Olmsted County, MN, USA, were included. The memory function questionnaire (MFQ), a 64-item, 7-point Likert-scaled instrument to evaluate the perception of everyday memory functioning was sent to all survivors. The MFQ comprises four scales: general frequency of forgetting (rates general forgetting), retrospective functioning (compares current memory with past ability), seriousness of forgetting (rates how memory impairment impacts daily life), and mnemonics usage (measures adaptation). The MFQ is scaled so that high scores reflect less severe memory complaints. The comparison population comprised members of the Mayo Older Americans Normative Studies (MOANS) cohort. Quality of life was ascertained with a short form (SF)-36 survey. Results: Seventy-nine of the 200 VF OHCA patients (40%) were discharged. Twenty-two patients have died since dismissal, with an overall average length of follow-up of 4.9±3.0 years. Thirty-eight (67%) of the survivors completed the MFQ. Compared with the normal, there was a significant decrease in the general frequency of forgetting score of 144.2±37.4 versus 168.1±27.3 (P<0.001) and the seriousness of forgetting score of 84.8±26.7 versus 95.2±19.7 (P=0.004). The retrospective function-scale scores were not significantly different (18.4±6.8 versus 18.7±5.0 (P=0.74)). Younger patients (lesser than 65 years of age) reported an increase in general forgetting and the seriousness of forgetting compared with older survivors. A comparison with SF-36 scores suggested an association between general forgetting and decreased vitality (P=0.03) and the seriousness of forgetting with a decreased general health (P=0.005), mental health (P=0.009), physical functioning (P=0.02), and vitality (P=0.05). Conclusion: In a cohort of VF OHCA patients, survivors report more memory complaints in comparison with a general healthy older population. There were more long-term-memory complaints in younger patients. Patients with higher long-term quality-of-life score have fewer memory complaints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-195
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Cardiac arrest
  • Out-of-hospital CPR
  • Outcome
  • Quality of life
  • Ventricular fibrillation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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