Cardiac Arrest: Essential Emergency Preparedness Guide

Worldwide, millions of people go into sudden cardiac arrest each year. Studies show that their chances of surviving an episode like this are 10 percent or less depending on the circumstances. In fact, many of them pass away before even reaching the hospital. That being said, early intervention can make a major difference. Reports indicate that performing CPR on a cardiac arrest victim can double or even triple his or her chance of survival. 

With that being the case, first aid and CPR training are vital. Responding calmly and quickly to an emergency like this can mean the difference between life and death. Having the right knowledge and experience assist a victim can help you not only save lives but minimize the potential long-term consequences of cardiac arrest for victims who survive. 

Know the Warning Signs

First of all, it’s important to know the warning signs of cardiac arrest. Chest pains are among the earliest and most common symptoms. Those may be accompanied by back pain and pain in the left arm and shoulder. People often experience dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, and shortness of breath as well. Heart palpitations are common with cardiac arrest too. In many cases, though, victims faint before they have a chance to tell anyone about those other symptoms. 

Contact Emergency Responders and Begin CPR

If you suspect someone is suffering from cardiac arrest, contact emergency responders to get them in route as quickly as possible. Every second counts in an emergency like this. If you know CPR, begin chest compressions and rescue breaths. That’ll keep blood, oxygen, and nutrients circulating to the victim’s vital organs. If you’re not trained in CPR, the emergency dispatcher may give you instructions on how to perform it. Continue chest compressions and rescue breaths until emergency personnel arrive to take over. Be sure to stay on the phone with the dispatcher until help arrives. 

Using Automated External Defibrillators

Another option is using an automated external defibrillator to help a cardiac arrest victim. These devices are often installed in public places for just such emergencies. You can buy personal models for use at home as well. Keeping one in your vehicle or your emergency preparedness kit is a good idea too. After all, you never know when you might need it. As is the case with CPR, an AED can greatly improve a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.

AEDs have adhesive pads that you stick to the patient, one on the upper right side of the chest and the other on the lower left side. They analyze the patient’s heart rhythm and deliver a shock to potentially restart the heart if necessary. They come with easy-to-read instructions so anyone can use them, even without prior medical training. Some even provide audio instructions. 

Saving the Lives of Cardiac Arrest Victims

Cardiac arrest is more common than you might think. When a person goes into cardiac arrest, his or her chance of survival is slim. Administering CPR or using an AED can greatly improve the odds. Having CPR training under your belt can give you not only the knowledge you need to save a life but the confidence to step in when you’re needed. No matter which methods you use to help save a cardiac arrest victim, it’s important to contact emergency responders as quickly as possible. Early intervention isn’t a substitute for professional medical care. 


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