My clinical speciality was ITU and Coronary Care, but it was now so long ago that the daily-honed skills I had on someone’s chest are now as rusty as the next person’s, but I welcome this move to make CPR far more widely known. I am also pleased that they have insisted on the use of the phrase “cardiac arrest” rather than “heart attack” because a heart attack is a Myocardial Infarction: a reduction in blood supply to the heart causing pain and dysrhythmia which is not the same as the sudden cessation of heartbeat which kills. CPR is for use when someone’s heart stops.
You can make a difference with CPR. Hands-only CPR is an effective way of maintaining circulation and it might just save a life with minimal risk to yourself. The current thinking is that in an un-monitored (ie outside of an ITU/CCU) arrest, the action of compression does some air exchange, and the continued circulation even at lowered oxygen levels maintains the vital organs. If they do die (and survival rates are very very low), it was probably because they were going to anyway. If they survive, then you have made a real difference: DO THE CPR!
If more people were prepared to help, then rates would improve. It’s never going to always work but you should try.
- Call 999
- Hands only CPR until the ambulance arrives
- Twice a second (ie to the rhythm of “Staying Alive”)