What to Do If Someone Has A Cardiac Arrest

Updated on May 2, 2019

Each year, thousands of people are unfortunately struck by sudden cardiac arrest – which can happen in or outside of hospital environments. How sudden they come on means that they can affect anyone at any time, from young children attending school to healthy adults carrying on their day to day activities, either at home or at work.  

If a victim suffering from a cardiac arrest isn’t appropriately treated, or not treated quickly enough, a cardio arrest can be fatal, which means that education on treating them is vital. 

It is due to the lack of education and training that gives such low figures on those who survive a cardiac arrest. The question you must ask yourself is if someone in our company was to suffer an attack, would we know how to step in and help? 

For a lot of people, the answer is no. 

Raising awareness on how big of a difference a defibrillator and effective CPR can make is one of the first steps. But before we go into what you must do if you’re to witness anyone suffering a cardiac arrest, there is a common misconception which must be explored first: the difference between cardiac arrest and heart attacks.

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack happens when the supply of blood to a certain part of the heart stops, causing a part of the heart muscle to die. The supply of blood to the heart can suddenly become blocked, usually by a blood clot. 

Symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain, where the chest feels like it’s being pressed or squeezed by a heavy object. This pain can travel from the chest to the jaw, neck, arms and back. People suffering a heart attack can also experience shortness of breath, feeling weak and/or lightheaded, and an overwhelming feeling of anxiety.

What is cardiac arrest?

A cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating completely. When the heart stops pumping blood, it then starves the brain of oxygen. This causes a person to fall unconscious and stop breathing, making it exceptionally life-threatening.

There are usually no symptoms before a cardiac arrest and, without immediate treatment, it can be fatal. If someone is in cardiac arrest, they won’t be conscious, and they won’t be responsive to anything around them. They, therefore, cannot help themselves.

It’s often unknown at the time why a person goes into cardiac arrest, but some of the causing factors include coronary heart disease, heart valve disease, abnormal heart rhythms, drug overdosing, electrocution and severe hemorrhaging. 

Cardiac arrests can happen at any time, any place. Whenever cardiac arrest hits, there is no time to lose, and action needs to be taken immediately. 

What to do when someone has a cardiac arrest

Without immediate treatment, 90-95% of cardiac arrests prove fatal, so the key here is to act as quickly as possible. There are three stages of reaction to a sudden cardiac arrest which must be followed if possible, to increase the chances of saving a life. 

Let’s take a look at the main actions to take if a sudden cardiac arrest happens:

1. Call emergency services

As it is an extreme medical emergency, the emergency services should be alerted to the problem, so call 911 immediately. Once they have been called, CPR is the next priority and should be carried out as soon as possible. 

2. Start CPR

While the emergency services are on their way, you will need to start carrying out CPR as a vital next step. At the same time, begin to look out for a nearby defibrillator.

3. Look for a defibrillator

Defibrillators have started to become more commonly available in public places, so with any luck, there will be one near you. In recent years, they have been situated across public places such as train stations, shopping centers, airports, and leisure centers for as much exposure as possible.

They tend to be fixed onto walls or in medical cupboards in the places where they are most needed. If you aren’t too familiar with how they actually work, they provide electric shocks through to the heart by the high energy provided in the defibrillator. This is done via pads that are placed on the chest near the heart. When this caused a shock through the heart, this is ‘defibrillation.’ 

Ideally, we would have access to defibrillators in the majority of public places, but we’re not quite there yet. However, there is a lot of pressure being put on institutions such as schools and office places to install them.

There are many different types of defibrillators, and it’s worth knowing that the many versions out there can differ. The ones you may come across in public places won’t necessarily be the same as the ones you’ll find being used by healthcare professionals in hospitals and in emergency services transportation. 

The ones found across hospitals will be more complex to use, where trained staff can effectively use them to manage critical situations. These will be similar to the ones you will find by Lifepak-15, which go above and beyond the call of duty, with the latest clinical capabilities to allow you to rise to any challenge. 

These also offer non-invasive monitoring for SpO2, carbon monoxide, and methemoglobin to detect chemical exposures. 

The importance of CPR and defibrillators 

CPR is one of the most life-saving skills a person can have, and if you haven’t already, it’s one which is important to be learned. Luckily, the defibrillators that are placed in public places are easy-to-use models which come with instructions that walk users through the whole process, clearly communicating what to do to save someone’s life. They say that if a defibrillator is used within the first three to five minutes of cardiac arrest, survival rates can almost triple. 

The first step is to recognize that someone is suffering from cardiac arrest, and the second step is to act quickly. Be aware of the vital steps to follow in a bid to save someone’s life and pass on awareness to anyone else who may not be familiar with the signs. 

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