When someone has a cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces their chances of survival by at least 7-10%. Knowing how to perform CPR could help to save someone’s life. Having access to a defibrillator can improve survival rates by 50-70%.
David and the Creating Lifesavers team are therefore aiming to teach as many people as possible about the vital benefits of learning CPR skills and encouraging companies across the country to invest in life-saving defibrillators for their communities.
What does performing CPR actually do?
Performing CPR increases the chances of survival because it ensures that a flow of oxygen rich blood is pumped to the brain and vital organs. This also increases the likelihood of the heart remaining in a ‘shockable’ rhythm, rather than deteriorating to a ‘non-shockable’ (flat-line) rhythm. It increases the potential success of resuscitating someone with a shock from a defibrillator.
What is a cardiac arrest?
A cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body. It is caused by a problem with the electrical system of the heart. Death of a person suffering a cardiac arrest can occur within minutes.
How do I know if someone has suffered a cardiac arrest?
You will not know for sure, which is why a defibrillator is so important. Someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest will be unresponsive, not moving and not breathing normally. The heart will have stopped pumping blood around the body, so someone suffering a cardiac arrest will lose consciousness almost immediately and will also show no visible signs of life – such as purposeful movement or breathing.
Is a cardiac arrest the same as a heart attack?
No, the term heart attack is often used by mistake to describe a cardiac arrest. A heart attack is when a blockage prevents blood getting to the heart. This causes death of the affected area of heart muscle, not necessarily the death of the person suffering a heart attack. A heart attack might lead to a cardiac arrest, but the terms do not mean the same thing. Generally, someone experiencing a heart attack will be conscious.
Why should I not just wait for an ambulance before doing anything?
Calling 999 is crucial to get professional help on the way. However, for every minute that passes without early CPR and defibrillation, there is a 10% drop in the chances of survival. UK NHS ambulances are targeted to reach people suffering a cardiac arrest within 8 minutes. Nevertheless they may encounter challenges such as traffic congestion, difficult access, crowds and travelling to remote areas which can delay their arrival on scene. The sooner CPR and a defibrillator is used, the more effective trained medical staff can be when they arrive.
Could a rescuer be sued for trying to resuscitate a cardiac arrest victim?
This is very unlikely. In English law, for someone to be held liable it would have to be shown that the intervention had left someone in a worse situation than if there had been no intervention.
In June 2014 a new bill (The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill) also offers a layer of protection for people taking action to save the life of others.
Between 12 and 15 young people die from heart related causes each week.
Every year, there are 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK