The finding, published Sept. 4 in The Lancet, may be controversial, since it challenges the common belief that it's futile to extend resuscitation in patients who do not respond immediately, the study authors said.
However, study lead author Zachary Goldberger of the University of Washington said the new findings "suggest that prolonging resuscitation efforts by 10 or 15 minutes might improve outcomes."
Speaking in a Lancet news release, he added that extending resuscitation would not use up much more medical resources and have only "modest" effects on the patient's neurological health, should he or she survive.
In the study, Goldberger's team analyzed data from more than 64,000 patients at 435 U.S. hospitals who underwent resuscitation after suffering a cardiac arrest between 2000 and 2008. There was wide variation in the average duration of resuscitation attempts at the hospitals.
However, patients at hospitals where resuscitation efforts lasted the longest were more likely to be successfully revived (restoration of heart beat for at least 20 minutes) and to survive to be discharged from the hospital than patients at hospitals where resuscitation attempts were shortest.