Cardiac arrest

Causes of a cardiac arrest

A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops pumping blood efficiently around the body.  It can be caused by:

  1. A heart attack
  2. Choking - the object stuck in the breathing passage will prevent oxygen from entering the lungs, if not removed quickly enough the oxygen starvation to the body will cause a cardiac arrest
  3. Trauma - if a person has been seriously wounded or injured in an accident, the severity of the trauma could cause a cardiac arrest

The symptoms of a cardiac arrest develop much faster than a heart attack.  The person suffering the cardiac arrest will collapse, stop breathing and will very quickly turn pale and a grey colour.

Learn to save a life

If you learn basic life-support you may be able to restart a patient's heart when they are suffering a cardiac arrest.  Your actions could be the difference between life and death.  Heartstart UK and The Chain of Survival are two initiatives which can help you learn to save a life.

Cardiac arrest treatment

The more quickly a person suffering cardiac arrest receives treatment, the better.  It is estimated that for every minute a person is left untreated, their chance of survival decreases by 14%.

The Chain of Survival recommends a series of actions, that when applied in sequence will dramatically increase the patient's chance of survival:

  1. Early Access to emergency services by calling 999
  2. Early CPR - Learning and applying basic life support skills could make all the difference for the patient's survival.  The 'Hands-Only CPR' campaign, led by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), publicises the  method of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation; without  'mouth-to-mouth'.
    The campaign's tagline, plainly and simply explains what to do:
    "Hands-only CPR.  Call 999.  Then push Hard and Fast to the beat of Stayin' Alive"If you are interested in learning basic life support skills, please Click Here.
  3. Early Defibrillation - Automated External Defibrillators are being placed in strategic locations around the North West, and members of the community trained in how to use them.

    'While it is highly desirable that those who may be called upon to use an AED should be trained in their use, and keep their skills up to date, circumstances can dictate that no trained operator (or a trained operator whose certificate of training has expired) is present at the site of an emergency. Under these circumstances no inhibitions should be placed on any person willing to use an AED.'Resuscitation council UK.

  4. Early Advanced Care -  Paramedics and other highly trained EMS staff should provide this care which can include:

- Basic life support
- Defibrillation
- Administration of cardiac drugs - Insertion of endotracheal breathing tubes

For more information on the Chain of Survival please Click Here

Relevant Videos

VIDEO: LEARN HOW TO USE DEFIBRILLATOR via the London Ambulance Service Website

How we treat heart attacks (BHF)

BHF 'Ask Vinnie - Hands Only campaign'