CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is a critical procedure in saving cardiac arrest victims. Whenever sudden cardiac arrest occurs, the victims need assistance within the shortest time possible. If CPR is not provided, fatalities can occur within 4 minutes.
Certain instances might cause a person to stop breathing in which case they are in urgent need for CPR. These include:
- Cardiac arrest
- Suspected sudden infant death syndrome
- Smoke inhalation
- Drug overdose
- Incidents of near drowning
- Road accidents
How Does Sudden Cardiac Arrest Occur?
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs unexpectedly. Before experiencing cardiac arrest, some victims exhibit certain symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, feelings of near fainting, unexplained wheezing, irregular heart beats, palpitations and chest discomfort/chest pain. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the electrical systems of the heart malfunction as a result of underlying factors. It could occur from ventricular fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia and bradycardia.
Ventricular fibrillation- is the most severe of all, instead of contracting to pump blood, the ventricles quiver or fibrillate. This condition is critical and requires emergency attention (CPR and AED).
Ventricular tachycardia- is a condition whereby the heartbeat is too fast with over 100 beats per minute, and this condition starts with the lower heart chambers.
Bradycardia- happens when the heart’s rhythm is extremely slow.
Causes for Sudden Cardiac Arrest:
- For people who have experienced a heart attack, the first six months present the risk of occurrence of sudden cardiac arrest. Persons with enlarged hearts are also at a high risk.
- Cardiomyopathy or thickening of the heart muscles present risk for sudden cardiac arrest. The causes can be hypertension or valve problems. People with heart muscle disease and heart failure are also at higher risk of experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.
- Some heart disease medications can place patients at a risk of sudden cardiac arrest even when taken at the recommended doses.
- Electrical abnormalities in the heart can trigger sudden cardiac arrest in young people and children. These include long QT syndrome and Parkinson-white syndrome.
- In rare cases, congenital blood vessel abnormalities (the aorta and coronary artery) can also result in sudden cardiac arrest.
- Recreational drugs used by healthy persons can also trigger sudden cardiac arrest.
How to Perform A Proper CPR?
CPR procedure requires training. Various institutions offer CPR training alongside the use of the AED. Sudden cardiac arrest mostly occurs without warning. The victim suddenly becomes unresponsive and is not breathing properly.
The first step in CPR is to check if the victim is responsive by checking for signs of life. If the victim suddenly falls unconscious, check for breathing. With the COVID-19 pandemic, rescuers are advised to avoid risky procedures such as listening to the victim for breathing. In stead, it is recommended that you talk to the victim and check for other signs of breathing such as rising of the chest.
If you can’t tell whether or not the victim is breathing, start performing CPR. As you start on CPR, have someone call for help. If you are alone, take the least time possible by yelling out for assistance.
Let the victim lie on their back and kneel beside them. Locate the middle of the victim’s chest and place one hand and the other on top. Clasp the fingers and using the heel of your hands, press on hard. Keep your hands straight at the elbow and apply pressure 2 inches deep at the rate of 100 compressions per minute.
For a child, use one hand to apply pressure and push 2 inches. For infants, use only two fingers to apply pressure to a depth of 1.5 inches.
Each 30 compressions should alternate with two rescue breaths. To perform rescue breaths, slightly tilt the victims head, pinch on the nose and open the mouth. Breath into the victim’s mouth until the chest rises. If the victim’s chest doesn’t rise, it could be a case of choking. Repeat the cycle of the compressions and rescue breathing until the victim shows obvious signs of life, the emergency response team takes over, or the AED device is available and ready for use.
For infants, to perform mouth to mouth resuscitation cover the nose and mouth with your own and breath in with the volume of your cheeks until the chest rises.
Common Mistakes People Make When Giving CPR
The procedure of performing CPR is easy to follow. Training is however required for an individual to offer high quality resuscitation and save lives.
Here Are Some of the Common Mistakes People Make in Offering CPR:
Depth of Compressions:
In most cases, CPR is not as effective because the rescuer is not applying enough pressure on the victims chest. It is most likely that the rescuer is in fear of hurting the victim. The purpose of doing CPR is to provide an artificial heart beat and maintain blood circulation. Without applying enough pressure the intention for CPR is not achieved. The blood is not moving as it should and the victim isn’t receiving the necessary assistance.
The Number of Compressions:
It is common for rescuers not to count the number of compressions they give to the victim per minute. The recommended number is 100. Too slow and too fast compressions are not effective in maintaining circulation.
Keeping the Arms Straight and Interlocking Fingers:
The main reason why professionals recommend that arms remain straight and fingers interlocked is because that way the rescuer can apply the appropriate amount of pressure. When the fingers are not interlocked the pressure is not sufficient. Instead, it provide a feeling of massage.
Tilting the Head of the Victim Backwards:
It is common for rescuers to resuscitate a victim without opening up their airway. The aim of keeping the victims head tilted is to prevent the airway from constricting and allow for air to go through to the lungs. When this is not done the process is not as effective as it should be.
Crossing of the Arms:
When giving CPR it is recommended that the arms remain straight. Some first aid responders hold the assumption that crossing their arms increases the amount of pressure. However, it reduces the amount of pressure and the rate of the compressions.
Not Calling Emergency Medical Services:
CPR alone cannot revive a victim of sudden cardiac arrest. The procedure works at keeping the victim alive as you wait for specialized help to take over or the AED to be availed. It is therefore important to get the assistance of specialists within the shortest time possible. High quality CPR can keep the victim alive for up to six hours. It is common for rescuers to get exhausted after offering continuous CPR for two hours. It is best that the chest compressions are continuous. If someone else is available, let them take over as that’s the only way to keep the victim alive. If the victim regains consciousness, they should also seek medical assessment and further treatment.
Overlooking the Safety Precautions:
The safety of the rescuer should always be a priority when offering first aid and CPR. Rescuers should not compromise on their safety as they attempt to save lives. They should always assess the environment in which they are performing CPR and use of the appropriate personal protective equipment.
Safety Precautions in Offering CPR:
In some cases, it is risky to give mouth to mouth resuscitation. When the victim is in doubt about the health condition of the victim, it is best to give hands only CPR which entails 100 compressions per minute. Transmission of illnesses and diseases can occur from patient to victim and vice-versa. With the victim being unconscious, it is the responsibility of the rescuer to follow the recommended safety measures and ensure safety for both of them.
Conditions that can be transmitted through mouth to mouth resuscitation include COVID and tuberculosis among others. AHA provides guidelines for rescuers to follow when using personal protection:
Rescuers should treat all body fluids with suspicion as they could potentially expose them to the risk of contracting illnesses.
Rescuers should always make use of personal protective equipment (PPE). These include disposable gloves, face shields, goggles, gowns, eye gear, facial masks and other protective equipment.
Certain procedures apply in the removal and disposal of PPE. When finished with the rescue process, it is recommended that these items be disposed of in a bio hazardous bin.
The quality of CPR performed on a victim defines their chances of survival. High quality chest compressions and ventilation should keep the victim alive for up to six hours. When you perform CPR correctly, you can keep the victim alive until emergency medical services arrive. The only way you can enhance your CPR skills is through CPR certification and recertification. The recertification course which is taken two years after certification provides an opportunity to refresh their CPR skills and stay up to date with upcoming changes and innovations in the field.
With the rising cases of cardiac arrest, anyone can suffer sudden cardiac arrest. If that happens in the presence of a CPR certified person then you are at luck. For this reason, everyone should make an effort to acquire CPR certification. With these skills, you could save the life of a loved one.
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