Cardiac Arrest: What does one look like?

Cardiac Arrest: What does one look like?

Sarah McLoughlin
Posted by Sarah McLoughlin

Date: Thursday, 07 September 2017. -  
Blog, Defibrillators

A cardiac arrest can affect anyone at any given time or place. The UK survival rates of a cardiac arrest lag behind other developed countries, however, a cardiac arrest is reversible in most cases if treatment is provided right way. It is therefore important to know what to do if a person suffers a cardiac arrest in order to reduce the number of deaths that occur as a result.

It is vital to take action immediately as every second counts for the victim and it is important to limit the time between collapse and treatment in order to increase their chance of survival. We explore the steps that you can take to help save a person’s life if you witness anyone experiencing a cardiac arrest.

Cardiac Arrest: The Basics

A cardiac arrest is caused by an electoral malfunction in the heart which prevents blood from being circulated around the body. A cardiac arrest can occur at any given moment, often with no prior warning.

When a cardiac arrest occurs, the heart goes into fibrillation which causes the victim to collapse. On many occasions, Cardiac Arrests are mistaken for Heart Attacks, but many people are unaware that whilst these are two serious cardiac events, they are two very different events that require different treatments.

Who is at risk of experiencing a Cardiac Arrest?

Although the average age of a cardiac arrest victim is 65, statistics show around 12 people under the age of 35 die each week from a sudden cardiac arrest.

Sadly, no one is immune to cardiac arrests as they can affect anyone of any age, at any given time, regardless of their current health condition. In the UK alone, there are approximately 30,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests and it is estimated that 80% of these cardiac events occur at home and the remaining 20% occur in a public place.

It may come as a shock to you, but sadly, no one is immune from cardiac arrest; this is one of the main reasons why having AEDs available in public places is essential to providing the highest possible survival chance to SCA casualties. 

Treating a Cardiac Arrest

Unfortunately, many lives are lost as a result of a cardiac arrest because bystanders are often unsure about what to do in an emergency situation. Knowing the steps to take after someone has suffered a cardiac arrest could mean the difference between life and death.

If you suspect someone has suffered a cardiac arrest, call 999 immediately. For every minute that passes without treatment, the victim’s chance of survival will decrease by 10%. Emergency services on average can take up to 8 minutes to arrive which in most cases, will be too late to treat a victim of cardiac arrest. Knowing CPR could potentially make a life-saving difference.

Time is very precious when treating a victim of SCA, the only definitive treatment for a cardiac arrest is effective CPR and early defibrillation. If a life-saving shock from a defibrillator is administered within 3-5 minutes of collapse, the victim’s chance of survival will increase from 6% to 74%.

By providing CPR to a victim of a cardiac arrest, you are effectively taking over the role of their heart and lungs by pumping blood and oxygen around the body. CPR involves a combination of chest compressions to keep circulation going and rescue breaths that will inflate the lungs. Even if you are untrained in CPR using rescue breathing, you can still help the victim by using hands only CPR.

A defibrillator is used to shock the heart in order to restore it back to a normal heart rhythm. These life-saving devices are designed to make the rescue process straightforward with voice prompts and visual cues to guide you through.

Public access defibrillators are available for cardiac emergencies and are designed so that the rescue process is as simple as possible for the first responder. The first responder does not need to be trained in using the life-saving device as voice prompts will instruct the user on what to do next. Due to various technological advancements, many defibrillators even include a metronome to ensure effective CPR is delivered.

Staying Calm

Dealing with someone who is experiencing a cardiac arrest can be frightening. However, it is important to remain as calm as possible as your quick-thinking actions could save that person’s life.

If you have any questions relating to cardiac arrests, head over to our twitter page @imptraining and we will be happy to assist you with any queries you may have.