June 1-7 is recognized as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) awareness week. CPR and AED can save lives when people know how to use them properly. The leading cause of death in the United States is cardiac arrest with less than 10 percent of the victims surviving. You can increase a victim’s chance of survival by knowing how to properly perform CPR and use an AED correctly.
Know the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest to best help people.
Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating unexpectedly. This causes an irregular heartbeat. When this happens, blood cannot be properly pumped to the brain, lungs, and other vital organs. The person will not be responsive and have a difficult time breathing within seconds. They will die in minutes if not treated immediately.
A cardiac arrest can happen to anyone regardless of their health status.
A heart attack is when blood flow is blocked to the heart. Blocked arteries prevent oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart. Unlike cardiac arrest, the symptoms are not seen immediately. Symptoms such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea or even vomiting, can happen hours if not weeks before a heart attack actually occurs. Also, the heart does not stop beating during a heart attack and symptoms are presented differently for men and women.
Hands-only CPR is a well-known lifesaving practice. Most are required to learn it at a young age through summer jobs such as babysitting and life guarding. Others learn it through a class within their community. The majority of people who have experienced cardiac arrest die on the scene because CPR was not performed immediately.
Here is how to properly perform hands-only CPR:
- Call 911 immediately if you see someone collapse
- Push down hard and fast on the center of the chest to a song that has 100 to 120 beats per minute such as:
- “Stayin ‘ Alive” by the Bee Gees
- “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z
- “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira
- “Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash
- Continue pressing on the chest until help arrives
Here is a hands-only CPR instructional video from the American Heart Association.
AED is a small electronic device that gives the heart an electrical shock. This process is called defibrillation. The shock stops the heart beat and allows it to return to its normal rhythm. AED is more challenging than hands-on CPR and is not always there to use. However if AED is available, it is recommended to use it along with CPR. Unlike CPR, more extensive training is required to use an AED.
Both hands-only CPR and AED can be used for cardiac arrest and a heart attack. Knowing these methods can help save lives.
Information from the American Heart Association was used for this blog post.
To find out if there is a CPR or AED class near you, click here.