Effect of Lower vs Higher Oxygen Saturation Targets on Survival to Hospital Discharge among Patients Resuscitated after Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest: The EXACT Randomized Clinical Trial

Stephen A. Bernard, Janet E. Bray, Karen Smith, Michael Stephenson, Judith Finn, Hugh Grantham, Cindy Hein, Stacey Masters, Dion Stub, Gavin D. Perkins, Natasha Dodge, Catherine Martin, Sarah Hopkins, Peter Cameron, The EXACT Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Importance: The administration of a high fraction of oxygen following return of spontaneous circulation in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest may increase reperfusion brain injury. Objective: To determine whether targeting a lower oxygen saturation in the early phase of postresuscitation care for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest improves survival at hospital discharge. Design, Setting, and Participants: This multicenter, parallel-group, randomized clinical trial included unconscious adults with return of spontaneous circulation and a peripheral oxygen saturation (Spo2) of at least 95% while receiving 100% oxygen. The trial was conducted in 2 emergency medical services and 15 hospitals in Victoria and South Australia, Australia, between December 11, 2017, and August 11, 2020, with data collection from ambulance and hospital medical records (final follow-up date, August 25, 2021). The trial enrolled 428 of a planned 1416 patients. Interventions: Patients were randomized by paramedics to receive oxygen titration to achieve an oxygen saturation of either 90% to 94% (intervention; n = 216) or 98% to 100% (standard care; n = 212) until arrival in the intensive care unit. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was survival to hospital discharge. There were 9 secondary outcomes collected, including hypoxic episodes (Spo2<90%) and prespecified serious adverse events, which included hypoxia with rearrest. Results: The trial was stopped early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 428 patients who were randomized, 425 were included in the primary analysis (median age, 65.5 years; 100 [23.5%] women) and all completed the trial. Overall, 82 of 214 patients (38.3%) in the intervention group survived to hospital discharge compared with 101 of 211 (47.9%) in the standard care group (difference, -9.6% [95% CI, -18.9% to -0.2%]; unadjusted odds ratio, 0.68 [95% CI, 0.46-1.00]; P =.05). Of the 9 prespecified secondary outcomes collected during hospital stay, 8 showed no significant difference. A hypoxic episode prior to intensive care was observed in 31.3% (n = 67) of participants in the intervention group and 16.1% (n = 34) in the standard care group (difference, 15.2% [95% CI, 7.2%-23.1%]; OR, 2.37 [95% CI, 1.49-3.79]; P <.001). Conclusions and Relevance: Among patients achieving return of spontaneous circulation after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, targeting an oxygen saturation of 90% to 94%, compared with 98% to 100%, until admission to the intensive care unit did not significantly improve survival to hospital discharge. Although the trial is limited by early termination due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the findings do not support use of an oxygen saturation target of 90% to 94% in the out-of-hospital setting after resuscitation from cardiac arrest. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1818-1826
Number of pages9
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2022


  • Oxygen saturation
  • spontaneous circulation
  • out of hospital cardiac arrest
  • Reperfusion injury
  • resuscitation


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