Cardiac Arrest

What is a cardiac arrest?

A cardiac arrest means a person’s heart has stopped. When a cardiac arrest occurs the brain and other vital organs are unable to receive any oxygen.

If someone has had a cardiac arrest they will be unconscious and will have ineffective or no breathing at all. 

A cardiac arrest is a medical emergency and without quick and effective first aid they will not survive. This is why knowing first aid is so important, it very literally can save lives.

How common are cardiac arrests?

Let us start by saying cardiac arrests are less common in children than in adults, however tragically they do happen.

In Australia there are around 25,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests each year. Unfortunately less than 10% of cases make it out of hospital alive. However by educating as many Aussies in first aid as possible, we can significantly increase these numbers!

Is a cardiac arrest the same as a heart attack?

Although people often use these terms interchangeably, they are actually different things.

A cardiac arrest means the heart has stopped beating entirely, whereas a heart attack is more of a plumbing issue. 

During a heart attack one or more of the arteries in the heart become narrowed or blocked reducing the flow of blood and oxygen to heart tissue. During a heart attack the person will often be conscious and alert but may have chest jaw or left arm pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea.

A heart attack can sometimes be the cause of a cardiac arrest in adults. However the most common cause of cardiac arrest in children is due to a lack of oxygen and loss of blood and other fluids.

How can I improve someone’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest?

Make sure to do a first aid and CPR refresher regularly. Providing CPR immediately to someone who has had a cardiac arrest can double and sometimes triple their chance of survival. As paramedics we have seen countless lives saved by people who knew how to deliver CPR. You simply can’t afford not to know CPR.

What about the chain of survival?

Great point!

The chain of survival is a series of steps that need to be taken in a cardiac arrest to improve the person’s chance of survival and involves:

Early access- Call 000 for an ambulance as soon as you suspect someone has had a cardiac arrest. Familiarise yourself with your emergency phone shortcuts and place your phone nearby on loudspeaker to free up your hands. Even if you are untrained the call taker will help guide you through providing CPR, remember any attempt is better than no attempt.

Early CPR- Start CPR as soon as possible! For every minute you delay CPR and defibrillation the person’s chance of survival decreases by around 10%. This means at the 10 minute mark, if there has been no CPR and/or defibrillation delivered that person will have very little chance of survival.

Early defibrillation- If you have access to a defibrillator put it on immediately and follow the prompts. Even if you do not know how to use a defibrillator you should still put it on, the defibrillator will talk to you and tell you exactly what to do. If the defibrillator is far away do not sacrifice CPR to go and get it. If you have multiple people available to help you could send someone to get the defibrillator and then put it on as soon as practical.

Early advanced life support- Paramedics can provide advanced medical care as soon as they arrive on scene, this can include medications, breathing support and other measures.

Do you know CPR? we would love to teach you. As previously mentioned CPR provided immediately to someone in a cardiac arrest can double or triple their chance of survival. You simply cant afford not to know it!

Head to our course page today to book a course with us.

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