ACCESS Study

The Maine Medical Center ACCESS Study is focused on people who arrive in the emergency department in cardiac arrest. The study was designed to research the safety and benefits of heart catheterization (heart cath) when done within 90 minutes of hospital arrival in patients that don't have certain finding on their ECGs. This study aims to answer the question: Does an early heart catheterization after cardiac arrest improve survival rates in this group of patients?

What is cardiac arrest?
Cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood. In adults, this may be the result of a heart attack. It is a major public health problem because survival rates are poor. Only 4 out of 10 people who have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest make it to the hospital alive.

Who can take part in this study?
Patients who have a cardiac arrest due to heart disease and have certain findings on their ECG test may take part in the study. All participants are randomly assigned to one of two groups.

Both groups will be treated with the standard post-cardiac arrest treatments. This includes cooling of the body which can protect the brain from injury caused by cardiac arrest. Additionally,

  • Participants in the first group will receive a heart catheterization right away.
  • Participants in the second group will receive standard medical treatment which may include a delayed heart cath.

The patient’s medical team will consult with you to decide if this is best for the patient. The only difference in the two groups is the timing of the heart catheterization.

How will you get informed consent?

To be involved in a research study the federal regulations require patients to give informed consent. Informed consent means that the patient understands the risk and benefits of taking part in the study and them chooses to be part of the study. Patients who arrive in the emergency department during cardiac arrest are not able to give informed consent because they are unconscious. A family member or legal representative may give consent for the patient. If they cannot be reached, patients can still take part in the study under what is called an Exception from Informed Consent for Emergency Research. In this case, the patient's medical team can decide if the patient should be in the research study.

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What If I do not want to be part of this study?
Please click on this link if you do not want to participate in the study and your name will be added to the list.

Dr. Sampi Vasaiwala“Sudden cardiac arrest occurring outside of a hospital is the third leading cause of death in the United States.  Patients with cardiac arrest may have electrical disturbances (ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia) which may occasionally be caused by a blockage in one of the heart arteries (heart attack).  However, some patients with a heart attack may have a normal appearing EKG. The ACCESS Trial is a National Heart Lung and Blood Institute sponsored clinical trial assessing the best method of evaluating patients who present with cardiac arrest but do not have evidence of a heart attack on EKG.” - Dr. Samip Vasaiwala

Dr. Donald Seder“The ACCESS study is a major, federally funded clinical trial designed to determine the best timing for cardiac catheterization after resuscitation from a cardiac arrest event.  Maine Medical Center and our patients were a major contributors to the pilot study, and we are pleased to be able to offer participation in this important and potentially transformative study to our patients and their families.  Maine has been and continues to be at the cutting edge of cardiac arrest research, and  has among the best cardiac arrest outcomes in the nation as a result.  After learning more, we think you will agree this trial helps our patients, their families, and the State of Maine, in addition to advancing scientific knowledge.” - Dr. David Seder