Sudden Cardiac Arrest and Importance of CPR

Cardiac arrest is a term that defines the abrupt loss of cardiac functions. This may occur in people with or without a history of previous heart diseases. Even though many confuse the term “sudden cardiac arrest” with “heart attacks”, it is important to know that they are two different terms. However, cardiac arrest may occur as a result of a heart attack.

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs instantly, just after the symptoms appear you only have a few minutes to get help or your chance of survival is threatened. Due to the lack of time to reach a medical establishment or to get the necessary medical assistance many people die as a result. It is recorded that in the United States there are about 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year. But, only about 12% out of these patients survive.  

This condition is caused as a result of cardiac electrical system’s malfunctions. Most of the time irregular heartbeats and other kinds of arrhythmias occur just before the heart stops completely. Ventricular fibrillation is known to be the most common arrhythmia that leads to cardiac arrest. These arrhythmias worsen rapidly and interfere with cardiac functions that disturb the circulation of blood to vital organs such as the brain. Therefore, death occurs few minutes after a cardiac arrest. At such a time the only life-saving action is to perform a CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation).

A cardiac arrest can be reversed with the help of CPR. If the patient is in a medical establishment, this is performed by the medical professionals. But, if the patient is somewhere out-of-the-hospital, then this must be performed by the most acknowledged person present at that moment. That is why it is important to know how to perform CPR in case of an emergency. If you are trained in CPR/AED you will know how to act in a sudden situation like this, then you can even save a life.

CPR includes C-A-B steps; C- chest compressions, A -airway and B –breathing and this can be performed by anyone who is trained. But, if you are untrained or trained but rusty, just perform chest compressions at the rate of 100-120 per minute. If you are trained and you do not have a helping hand then the standard is to perform 30 chest compressions to 2 breaths in continuous cycles.

CPR can be performed on adults, children, and infants whenever necessary. Chest compressions make sure the blood circulates in the body while breaths give enough oxygen to the lungs.  By cyclically breathing and compressing chest, you make sure that the patient’s vital organs are supplied with enough oxygen to survive.

There are few possible complications of a CPR and they are rib or sternum fractures and gastric insufflations. But, these complications are disregarded in emergency situations as the main focus is to save the life. This is why it is necessary to learn and get trained in CPR to help save a life when needed.