In January, 54 year-old Howard Snitzer suffered a heart attack outside of a grocery store in Goodhue, Minn. Luckily, two first responders were across the street and quickly began CPR. Before long, a large group of rescuers, including a helicopter and team from the Mayo Clinic, arrived to help. Finally, after 12 defibrillation shocks, antiarrhythmic drugs and more than an hour and a half of continuous resuscitation, Snitzer's pulse returned. It had been 96 minutes since he had collapsed.
Generally, if a victim's pulse has not started after 45 minutes of CPR, resuscitation is discontinued.
What kept them going? Readings displayed on the capnograph brought by the Mayo team indicated the air coming out of Mr. Snitzer's lungs had healthy levels of carbon dioxide—strong evidence that CPR was effectively moving oxygenated blood to his brain and other organs.
Emergency responders knew from the capnograph that resuscitation was working.
After ten days in the hospital, Snitzer was released "showing no neurological problems from the extended period without a pulse."
The Mayo Clinic reports that this is the longest a person has survived without a pulse "in an-out-of hospital arrest with a good outcome."