11 Dec Importance of early bystander CPR in successful resuscitation from cardiac arrest
There is often confusion about the difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack. There is a large difference, including that cardiac arrest may be caused by a heart attack.
Cardiac arrest is an abrupt cessation of pump function in the heart; prompt intervention can usually reverse a cardiac arrest, but without intervention, it will almost always lead to death. Heart attacks, while serious, often do not lead directly to death quickly. Cardiac arrest, in some cases, is an expected outcome of a serious illness.
Usually, with cardiac arrest, the patient will be unconscious and have stopped breathing. Near death experiences are reported by up to 20% of people who survive cardiac arrest.
Heart attacks – properly referred to as myocardial infarction – results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die. Because a heart attack does not cause a patient to stop breathing or necessarily become unconscious, it does not have the immediate implications of death which cardiac arrest has for patients.
To restore breathing and consciousness, it is critical for cardiac arrest patients to have early bystander CPR administered before permanent impairment and damage or death occurs. It is important to remember cardiac arrest is synonymous with clinical death.
Early CPR improves the flow of blood and oxygen to vital organs, an essential component of treating cardiac arrest. By keeping the brain supplied with oxygenated blood, chances of neurological damage are decreased. Early defibrillation is effect for the management of ventricular fibrillation and pulseless ventricular tachycardia. If defibrillation is delayed, the rhythm is likely to degenerate into asystole, for which outcomes are worse.
CPR should be started as soon as possible and interrupted as little as possible. The component of CPR which seems to make the greatest difference is chest compressions. Correctly performed bystander CPR has been shown to increase survival; sadly, it is performed in less than 30% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. This increases the need for an informed population to know CPR and understand the fastest possible action provides the ability to save a life which otherwise can quickly be lost.