Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States. About 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur annually. It’s not the same as a heart attack. A heart attack is a “circulation” problem when blood flow to the heart is blocked. Sudden cardiac arrest is usually an “electrical” malfunction and it comes without warning.
Could you save the life of someone in cardiac arrest? According to the American Heart Association, every second counts because without immediate CPR, the heart, brain and other vital organs aren’t receiving enough oxygenated blood. For every minute without CPR, the chance of death increases by 10 percent.
Have a plan for emergencies. Memorize these easy steps that anyone can take that can double or even triple a victim’s chance of survival.
- First, check for responsiveness. Shout, poke. A person in cardiac arrest will lose consciousness and have no pulse. They will not respond to you.
- Now is when you take action! Call 911 for assistance. Getting medical support fast is key to recovery and most operators will be able to coach you in first aid. If others are nearby, ask them to call and send someone to locate an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) Use it as soon as it arrives!
- Begin chest compressions. Place your hands, fingers interlocked – in the center of the chest and begin pumping. Hard. Remember the beat to keep is the same as “Stayin’ Alive.”
If an AED is available, use it. This easy-to-use medical device will not only guide you through the steps, but analyze the victim’s heart rhythm before it delivers an electrical shock.
If there’s no AED, continue with the Hands-Only CPR until help arrives. Ask bystanders to help if you tire, but keep pumping!
Be prepared, know what to do and then follow through. The American Heart Association is a great source of emergency response information and training, wherever you are. Learn more at HEART.org.