Surviving A Sudden Cardiac Arrest
For most people, Sudden Cardiac Arrest, or SCA, might seem like a death sentence. After all, it comes without warning and could really cause death within a matter of minutes. As grave as it sounds, however, there is actually a way to survive a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. This “way” is what is known as the Chain of Survival.
The Chain of Survival is actually made up of five steps and was developed by the American Heart Association in the ’90s. It was disseminated by the said organization in the same year in order to arm people with the right knowledge when dealing with SCA cases that occur outside of the hospital.
Link #1: Recognize
As with anything else, you need to ascertain first that the patient is suffering from cardiac arrest. That means, you would need to check on how responsive the patient and if he or she is having difficulty breathing. In case the patient is unconscious or cannot breathe normally, your first step would be to have somebody call 911. While this is happening, you can already proceed with the second link.
Link #2: Chest Compression
AHA now recommends that, as soon as you have ascertained that the person is unconscious and has shallow breathing, you need to make sure that you administer chest compression. It is recommended that the chest compression should be at least 100 in a minute with a depth of about 5 centimeters each. It should also be done until the paramedics arrive. It should be kept in mind, however, that, by itself, CPR is not capable of restoring normal heart beat pattern. The longer the patient has to wait for the paramedics to arrive, the lesser the efficacy of chest compression is. The best way to even out those odds would be to make sure that you also have an AED unit that can help restore the normal beating pattern, which brings us to the next step.
Link #3: Defibrillation
Because SCA is commonly caused by an interruption in the normal beating pattern of the heart, you might need to apply electric shock in order to help it normalize. Now, if you have an AED unit on hand, you need not worry about how to apply electric shock, or if there is actually a need for one. While doing chest compression, you can have someone attach the pads of the AED. This would help you determine whether you need to continue with the chest compression or if there is already a need to administer shocks.
Link #4: ALS
In cases of SCA, time is of the essence. That means, the paramedic has to arrive on time and should be able to administer CPR, do defibrillation, and administer cardiac drugs. In some cases, they might also need to intubate the patient. This is the reason why you need to have someone call 911 immediately, while you start the chest compression.
Link #5: Post-SCA care
Getting the patient to the hospital does not mean that all would be well. Both paramedics and first respondents have to understand that every minute counts when it comes to pulling through an SCA episode. Each minute longer that the patient has to wait would mean a higher percentage of him or her not being able to make it through.