About Cardiac Arrest & CPR
What is cardiac arrest?

Cardiac arrest is the sudden, abrupt loss of heart function. The victim may or may not have diagnosed heart disease. It's also called sudden cardiac arrest or unexpected cardiac arrest. Sudden death (also called sudden cardiac death) occurs within minutes after symptoms appear.
What causes cardiac arrest?

The most common underlying reason for patients to die suddenly from cardiac arrest is coronary heart disease. Most cardiac arrests that lead to sudden death occur when the electrical impulses in the diseased heart become rapid (ventricular tachycardia) or chaotic (ventricular fibrillation) or both. This irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) causes the heart to suddenly stop beating. Some cardiac arrests are due to extreme slowing of the heart. This is called bradycardia.

Other factors besides heart disease and heart attack can cause cardiac arrest. They include respiratory arrest, electrocution, drowning, choking and trauma. Cardiac arrest can also occur without any known cause.
Can cardiac arrest be reversed?

Brain death and permanent death start to occur in just 4 to 6 minutes after someone experiences cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest can be reversed if it's treated within a few minutes with an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal heartbeat. This process is called defibrillation. A victim's chances of survival are reduced by 7 to 10 percent with every minute that passes without defibrillation. Few attempts at resuscitation succeed after 10 minutes.
How many people survive cardiac arrest?

No statistics are available for the exact number of cardiac arrests that occur each year. It's estimated that more than 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital. In cities where defibrillation is provided within 5 to 7 minutes, the survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest is as high as 49 percent.
What can be done to increase the survival rate?

Early CPR and rapid defibrillation combined with early advanced care can result in high long-term survival rates for witnessed cardiac arrest. For instance, in June 1999, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were mounted 1 minute apart in plain view at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports. In the first 10 months, 14 cardiac arrests occurred, with 12 of the 14 victims in ventricular fibrillation. Nine of the 14 victims (64 percent) were revived with an AED and had no brain damage.

If bystander CPR was initiated more consistently, if AEDs were more widely available, and if every community could achieve a 20 percent cardiac arrest survival rate, an estimated 40,000 more lives could be saved each year. Death from sudden cardiac arrest is not inevitable. If more people react quickly by calling 9-1-1 and performing CPR, more lives can be saved.
What is CPR?

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a combination of rescue breathing and chest compressions delivered to victims thought to be in cardiac arrest. When cardiac arrest occurs, the heart stops pumping blood. CPR can support a small amount of blood flow to the heart and brain to “buy time” until normal heart function is restored.

Cardiac arrest is often caused by an abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF). When VF develops, the heart quivers and doesn't pump blood. The victim in VF cardiac arrest needs CPR and delivery of a shock to the heart, called defibrillation. Defibrillation eliminates the abnormal VF heart rhythm and allows the normal rhythm to resume. Defibrillation is not effective for all forms of cardiac arrest but it is effective to treat VF, the most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest.
Sudden death from cardiac arrest is a major health problem that's received much less publicity than heart attack. Safety Works instructs courses throughout Southern California and supports implementing the "chain of survival" to rescue people who suffer a cardiac arrest in the workplace and community. The adult chain consists of

* Early Access to Medical Care (calling 9-1-1 immediately)
* Early CPR
* Early Defibrillation
* Early Advanced Care

Call today for training and information: (310) 542-0594