What if I’m not certain whether or not I need to use an AED?
What if I don’t perform all the steps of CPR and defibrillation perfectly?
Treating SCA is a high-stress situation. Even experienced health care providers do not do everything perfectly. During SCA, performing CPR and using an AED can only help the victim.
I shocked a person in SCA within minutes after she collapsed, but they did not survive. Did I do something wrong?
Unfortunately, because of other underlying medical or heart problems, a victim of SCA who is in VF may not survive even if defibrillation is done promptly and correctly.
If defibrillation is so important, why should I do CPR?
CPR provides some circulation of oxygen-rich blood to the victim’s heart and brain. This circulation delays both brain death and the death of heart muscle. CPR also makes the heart more likely to respond to defibrillation.
Should I perform CPR first or apply electrode pads from the AED?
Start CPR immediately. Once the AED is present, apply the electrode pads to the victim’s bare chest, and follow the AED’s voice prompts and messages. It will tell you when to resume CPR.
Is CPR done the same way in adults and children?
The core principles of CPR – ventilation to provide breathing and chest compressions to support the circulation – apply equally to children and adults.
Many children do not receive CPR because potential rescuers are not sure if there are specific methods recommended for children, and are afraid of causing harm. This fear is unfounded; it is far better to use the adult CPR sequence for the resuscitation of a child than to do nothing. When performing chest compressions, compress the child’s chest by 1/3 to 1/2 of its depth – don’t be afraid to push hard.
Although slightly different techniques are taught to those people (particularly healthcare workers) who have special responsibilities for the care of children, the differences are not crucial, and it is far more important to do something using the techniques you have been taught.
How should Sudden Cardiac Arrest be treated?
SCA is treatable most of the timeespecially when it is due to an electrical abnormality called ventricular fibrillation as long as it is treated quickly. Treatment includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of defibrillators. This treatment must be provided immediately to be effective, ideally within three to five minutes after collapse. Even the fastest emergency medical services may not be able to reach a victim this quickly. That is why prompt action by bystanders is critical and why it is so important that more laypersons learn CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Laypersons should be prepared to recognize the emergency, call for professional help, give CPR and use the nearest AED. If the person is not responsive and not breathing normally, one should suspect SCA and start CPR. This has been called the “No-No-Go” protocol. When a person suffers cardiac arrest, he or she is clinically dead, but life can often be restored with immediate bystander action.
Subsequent care includes administration of medications and other advanced cardiac life support techniques by emergency medical personnel. Patients who have been successfully resuscitated but remain in a coma after cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation (VF) may benefit from mild therapeutic hypothermia (cooling), which can improve the chances of survival with good brain function. SCA survivors should see heart specialists (cardiologists and electrophysiologists) for follow-up care.