Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) happens to 300,000 people a year, and 85% of the time, it happens outside of a hospital setting. It could happen to anyone at any age in your home or in your neighborhood. There's no better way to increase the odds of a good outcome than taking time to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). What Is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
SCA is different from a heart attack. While heart attacks occur when a blockage prevents blood flow to the heart, SCA causes the heart to stop pumping blood to the rest of the body. Without blood, the brain and vital organs begin to die within minutes. Doing chest compressions helps to preserve the brain and organs until emergency workers can arrive.
CPR can save the life of someone you love, seven out of 10 cases of sudden cardiac arrest happen at home. Most cases involve older adults with cardiovascular disease, but not always. In fact, SCA is the leading cause of death among young high school and college athletes. SCA is also on the rise among children.
Both detected and undetected heart issues could put anyone at risk. If SCA happens, the odds are that it will happen in your home rather than at the hospital. If you can perform CPR on your loved one, you can help their blood to keep circulating while waiting on professional medical help and double their chance of survival.
Learning CPR Will Make You a Resource for Your Community
Believe it or not, only 15-30 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest receive CPR. Bystanders are often afraid of doing more harm to the person or are worried about legal risks. When facing a life-or-death situation, CPR should always be performed.Taking a class at an organization like the Red Cross will prepare you for a critical moment either at home, at work or in your community. CPR classes cover procedures for adults as well as children. Some courses offer education in using automated external defibrillators (AED), which are often on hand in offices and public places.
When you take a CPR class, you will likely learn life-saving techniques for infants, children and adults, as well as choking prevention and how to use an AED. Most courses blend video instruction with instructor-led training that allows you to complete coursework in one sitting.
Many courses provide knowledge and training in basic first aid. You’ll likely learn how to control bleeding, use an EpiPen (a device that delivers medication for life-threatening allergic reactions) and assess someone’s immediate medical threat.
CPR courses usually teach one- or two-person CPR. You’ll have the opportunity to learn and test on a CPR manikin that provides real-time feedback.
You will also learn boundaries and what you can and cannot do when helping someone with a medical emergency. Knowing your limitations can give you confidence in knowing your role to help someone who is sick or injured and keep them safe until medical help arrives. Some course graduates go on to be advocates for CPR training in their communities and workplaces. Your office or place of employment, for instance, may or may not have an AED machine. If it does, you could become the person who ensures that everyone knows where it is and how to use it.
A Few Things to Note About CPR
If you find yourself in a situation where CPR is needed, there are a few things you should know. First and foremost, 911 should be called immediately no matter what. Ideally, there will be someone else nearby who can call 911 while you begin looking for a defibrillator and begin CPR.
Secondly, when performing CPR, remember to push down hard and fast right in the middle of the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 pushes per minute. Once the chest comes back up to its normal position after you’ve pushed, you may push again.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a good rule of thumb is to time your pushes to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive.” Remember: this method of CPR does not require you to breathe into someone’s mouth; it is considered hands-only.
Lastly, you should always keep performing CPR until the medical professionals arrive. If someone with more formal CPR training shows up, you can also let them take over; however, it’s critical that CPR is kept up until you receive more help.
After the heart stops beating, you have between four and six minutes before brain death occurs. When you perform CPR, you’re able to keep the blood inside the body flowing and provide much-needed oxygen to the brain and other organs. This allows the victim a higher chance of making a full recovery.
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