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CPR/AED Awareness Week: Every second counts


Sudden cardiac arrest is a medical emergency requiring immediate attention. Prompt initiation of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and early defibrillation using an automated external defibrillator (AED) significantly increase the chances of survival. If you witness someone experiencing cardiac arrest, call emergency services immediately. If you are trained start CPR and ask for an AED.

CPR and AED awareness week serves as a reminder of the importance of these skills in saving lives, empowering individuals, improving survival rates, building resilient communities, and enhancing workplace safety. By promoting awareness and encouraging training, we can create a society that is better equipped to respond effectively in emergency situations.

As GSS Health and Consultation, we would like to contribute to the CPR and AED awareness week  (June, 1-7) with this article.

Let’s Say Someone collapsed on the street. What will happen now?

How soon after the ambulance call can the ambulance arrive at the scene, have you ever thought?

The answer depends on many factors, doesn’t it?

How crowded a city is, is it traffic jammed, how far is the ambulance station? 

Does anyone out there know how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)?

Is there an automatic external defibrillator (AED) nearby?

The victim lies on the ground, motionless, unresponsive. Someone called an ambulance immediately. 

What does victim need to survive?

Here are the must-haves

The victim’s circulation stopped. Cardiac massage will be started, the heart pump will be replaced

If a fatal arrhythmia, such as ventricular fibrillation, puts the victim in this state, the patient will be shocked with an AED.

Effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation will continue until paramedics arrive. Otherwise, the patient’s brain will be irreversibly affected by the circulatory arrest and death will occur in 3-4 minutes.

Learning Basic Life Support (BLS) and CPR is essential for anyone who wants to be prepared to respond to medical emergencies. It’s essential to stay updated with the latest guidelines and techniques recommended by reputable organizations like the The American Heart Association (AHA) or the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR).

Now let’s look at the background of “the moments that matter” in CPR & AED awareness week.

Cardiac collapse, also known as cardiac arrest, refers to the sudden cessation of the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively. It is a life-threatening condition where the heart stops beating or beats irregularly, leading to the interruption of blood flow to vital organs, including the brain. Without immediate medical intervention, cardiac collapse can rapidly result in brain damage or death. Sudden cardiac arrest can happen anywhere, at any time, without prior symptoms or warning signs and affect individuals of all ages.

The most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest is a heart arrhythmia called ventricular fibrillation (VF). VF occurs when the heart’s electrical signals become chaotic, causing the ventricles (the heart’s lower chambers) to quiver or “fibrillate” instead of pumping blood effectively. This results in a sudden loss of blood flow to the brain and other vital organs. There are several factors that can lead to VF and subsequent sudden cardiac arrest. The most prevalent underlying cause is coronary artery disease (CAD), which occurs when the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle become narrowed or blocked by a buildup of plaque. CAD can lead to a heart attack (myocardial infarction) if a plaque rupture causes a complete blockage of the coronary artery.

Cardiac collapse is considered highly time-sensitive because the longer the heart remains in a state of arrest, the greater the risk of irreversible damage and death. When the heart stops beating, oxygen-rich blood is no longer supplied to the brain and other organs, leading to oxygen deprivation and subsequent organ failure. Brain cells begin to die within minutes without oxygen, making the restoration of blood flow and resuscitation critical.

The chances of successful resuscitation decrease rapidly with every passing minute of cardiac collapse. AHA emphasizes the importance of initiating CPR as quickly as possible to maintain blood circulation and oxygenation until advanced medical support arrives. Immediate access to an AED can also be crucial, as it can help restore a normal heart rhythm in cases of certain cardiac arrhythmias like VF.

According to the AHA, in the United States alone, it is estimated that around 356,000 cases of out of hospital cardiac arrests occur each year, but only 10 percent survive. The numbers can vary from country to country. CPR is initiated in only 50% of witnessed arrests by lay rescuers. The quality of CPR is the main determinant of survival in cardiac arrest, so CPR from bystanders is essential.

CPR is a shared instructional objective of training in basic life support and advanced life support for lay rescuers and health care providers. People are increasingly being trained, experiencing efficient educational approaches, and developing collective knowledge and experience of life support and technological integration in resuscitation. Despite significant improvements, survival from out of hospital cardiac arrest has remained unchanged since 2012. There is a still way to go.

So, that is important to teach people how to recognize cardiac arrest, perform CPR correctly, and effectively use an AED to restore heart rhythm. The awareness of CPR and AED usage are to empower individuals with life-saving skills and knowledge, allowing them to respond promptly and confidently in emergency situations. By educating the public about CPR, the hope is to increase survival rates for cardiac arrest victims, as immediate CPR can double or triple their chances of survival.

An AED is a portable device that can analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heart rhythm. Defibrillation is particularly effective in cases of ventricular fibrillation (a chaotic, abnormal heart rhythm) and certain types of cardiac arrhythmias.

Overall, AED usage is crucial because it enables prompt response and potentially life-saving defibrillation in cases of sudden cardiac arrest. These devices help bridge the gap between the occurrence of a cardiac emergency and the arrival of professional medical assistance, increasing the chances of a positive outcome for the affected individual. 

Here are a few reasons why AED usage is crucial:

  1. Immediate response: cardiac arrest requires immediate intervention. For every minute that passes without defibrillation, the chance of survival decreases by about 7-10%. AEDs enable quick action by providing easy access to defibrillation in public places, workplaces, schools, airports, and other locations.
  2. User-friendly operation: AEDs are designed to be used by both trained medical professionals and non-medical personnel. They provide voice and visual prompts to guide users through the process, making it easier for even untrained individuals to provide life-saving aid.
  3. Time to defibrillation: AEDs significantly reduce the time to defibrillation, which is crucial for restoring the heart’s normal rhythm. The sooner a shock is delivered, the better the chances of successful resuscitation and minimizing potential brain damage.
  4. Community response: Cardiac arrest can occur outside of medical settings, and bystanders are often the first to respond. Wide availability of AEDs increases the likelihood that a bystander can quickly locate and use one to assist a person in need. Public access to AEDs empowers individuals to take action and potentially save lives before professional help arrives.
  5. Increased survival rates: Studies have shown that the early use of AEDs, along with CPR, can significantly improve survival rates for cardiac arrest victims. AEDs can restore normal heart rhythms in cases of certain types of abnormal rhythms, such as ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia.

It’s important to note that sudden cardiac arrest can occur in individuals with no prior symptoms or known heart conditions. However, addressing underlying heart conditions, leading a heart-healthy lifestyle, and seeking medical attention for any concerning symptoms can help reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

In summary, cardiac collapse is a life-threatening condition characterized by the sudden cessation of effective heart function. The time sensitivity of cardiac collapse underscores the importance of immediate recognition, early activation of emergency services, early CPR, and defibrillation to restore circulation and increase the chances of survival and recovery.