When someone suffers a cardiac arrest, their heart stops beating to the point where perfusion either halts or is insufficient to provide blood flow throughout the body; particularly to the brain and other vital organs. This means that the person is clinically dead. Once the person is pronounced dead by a doctor or medical professional, he or she is now identified as biologically dead; which means that a degeneration of tissue and brain has occurred and is irreversible.
Typically, the latter is too late to provide life-saving techniques. However, with clinical death, reversal is entirely possible. Most people don’t understand this because of what they have learned in the past or watched on television and the movies. Time is crucial! Here is where you must act, in order to make a difference.
If you find a person down and he or she is not breathing and has no pulse, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation. If you are not familiar with knowing how to do that, simply put your hands on the center of the chest and push hard and fast. Doing something is better than doing nothing at all. On the other hand, knowing what you are doing brings comfort and skill. Both can bring a desired effect.
There are times when a desired effect is achieved by doing CPR. The person may have a return of a heartbeat and/or breathing. If this occurs, then stop pushing on the chest. Consequently, your earlier actions were to notify the paramedics by calling 911. The team should be arriving now. When they approach the victim and find that he or she breathing and have a pulse, your statement of occurrence (what happened and how long you did CPR) turns out to be just as important as CPR itself. Your actions or attempted actions is appreciated and should be rewarded with a heartfelt and grateful thank you. We must be prepared for the possible, since noting is impossible with life’s instabilities. The following is a scenario that occurs around the world:
Grandpa George is out of shape and his doctor told him to get some exercise in order to have a healthier heart. Grandpa George agrees and advises the doctor that he will do just that. What Grandpa George didn’t realize is that he was to gradually (but not acutely) get himself back into shape. He went to the local gym with his two teenage grandsons and a group of boys to play a game of basketball. He felt good and believed he would whoop on those young kids with ease. It was only minutes after the game began when Grandpa George develop a vague tightness in his chest. He disregarded it and attributed the discomfort to being out of shape. He continued to play. Suddenly, while running down the court, he collapsed and fell to the floor. His grandsons came to his side to find him without a pulse and he was not breathing. Because his grandsons took a CPR class, just one week ago, they immediately dove into action. One of the grandsons advised the other players to call 911 and bring the AED (Automatic External Defibrillator). CPR was started within minutes. The boys rhythmically and flawlessly executed the skill of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and kept artificial perfusion moving where blood was flowing to Grandpa George’s vital organs. When the AED arrived, one of the boys attached it while the other continued CPR. The AED called for a shock and when the button was pushed, CPR was continued for a brief moment and suddenly, Grandpa George began to breathe. CPR was discontinued and the boys checked for a pulse and found it. Grandpa George’s eyes opened and he began to speak. When the Paramedics arrived, they found Grandpa George awake with a sore chest. He was taken to the emergency room and diagnosed with ST elevation myocardial infarction. He suffered a cardiac arrest, on the basketball court, received CPR, and was transported to a STEMI Center hospital where he went through the Cath lab. Today, he goes on walks and receives regular visits to his doctor. He is alive because of his grandsons who took the time to learn CPR. He is alive because he received a shock from a defibrillator, and he is alive because he made it to a STEMI Center hospital and received definitive advance level care.
This scenario is real and occurs around the world. Unfortunately, the results are not always the same. Family members, bystanders, and witnesses are not trained in a simple life-saving maneuver that WILL make a difference in a cardiac arrest person’s outcome. It is nice to know that those boys took just 4 hours out of their busy day to learn how to take care of a crisis; a crisis that will inevitably occur in every family.
Are you ready to go head to head with a victim of cardiac arrest and save their life? If you are not trained in CPR, then you are not.