Each year, over 360,000 people in the U.S. (more than 1,000/day) experience out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest, and nine out of 10 victims die. It is the leading cause of adult death in the country.
Sudden cardiac arrest is a sudden and unexpected pulseless condition attributed to cessation of cardiac mechanical activity. It is usually caused by ventricular fibrillation, an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system. When SCA occurs, blood stops flowing to the brain, the heart, and the rest of the body, and the person collapses.
A cardiac arrest is not a heart attack which occurs when part of the heart’s blood supply is reduced or blocked, causing the heart muscle to become injured or die. It has been described as a “plumbing problem” in the heart. The heart attack victim is awake and may complain about one or more of the signs and symptoms of heart attack. In contrast, the SCA victim is not awake and needs immediate help.
An AED is a portable user-friendly electronic device that automatically diagnoses potentially life-threatening heart rhythms. If the AED detects a problem that may respond positively to an electric shock, it permits a shock to be delivered to restore a normal heart rhythm. AEDs provide simple audio and visual instructions and are designed for use by laypersons.
It is important that a combination of CPR and early shocking of the heart with an automated external defibrillator (AED) is administered as soon as possible to the person experiencing the SCA. Dialing 911 and waiting for the EMT’s to arrive will not help the person survive.
AEDs are designed to resuscitate people whose hearts have stopped working effectively. AEDs will only shock victims whose hearts need to be shocked to restore a healthy rhythm. They are simple to use, and you do not need to be certified in CPR to activate the device.
Sudden cardiac arrest often occurs in active people who seem to be healthy and have no known medical conditions. In these patients, SCA is the first indication of a heart condition. However, some people can be identified in advance as being at risk for SCA. Risk factors include:
• A previous heart attack
• Coronary artery disease (and risk factors for CAD including smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, elevated LDL cholesterol, family history of heart disease, sedentary lifestyle)
• Heart failure from other causes
• Episodes of fainting of unknown cause
• A thickened heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
• Heart rhythm disorders
• Heart valve disorders
• Blood vessel abnormalities
Living a healthy lifestyle—exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, maintaining a reasonable weight, and avoiding smoking—can help prevent sudden cardiac arrest. Monitoring and controlling blood pressure, cholesterol levels and diabetes is also important.
If you come across someone who has collapsed, is unresponsive and is not breathing normally, here’s what to do:
Act fast. Call 9-1-1 and send for the nearest AED. Use the AED as soon as possible.
While waiting for professional the AED and professional help to arrive:
If you are not trained in CPR, push down hard and fast in the center of the chest (2” depth, 100 pumps/minute). Continue. Think “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees
According to the American Heart Association about 92,000 people are saved in this country each year. By CPR and AED’s. Bottom line, CPR & AED’s save lives.
Any citizen bystander who elects to intervene, attempting to resuscitate someone with CPR and shocking the heart is protected by Good Samaritan Laws, meaning that you can’t be held liable if your attempt is unsuccessful. The bottom line is do what you can do, you can’t make the situation worse!
Cardio-Start is a Milwaukee-based sole source provider of cardiac emergency response products and services. We serve a diverse array of clients including schools, churches, manufacturing, professional offices, construction companies, gyms, and even private homes. We have built our reputation in assisting our clients in every aspect of implementing a cardiac emergency response program, buying AED’s, training in CPR, and much more. It is our mission to increase the survival rates of cardiac arrest by empowering our clients to implement an emergency response plan that includes training of staff, and the installation of emergency equipment like AED’s and oxygen.
Cardio start, based in Whitefish Bay, is a dedicated provider of cardiac emergency response products training and services. We serve a diverse array of industries, with the goal of helping our clients achieve and maintain an optimal state of readiness should an unforeseen emergency occur.