Understanding why resuscitation attempts may fail

Feeling confused and upset is understandable when a resuscitation attempt does not achieve the desired outcome. It’s natural to wonder why your efforts to do the right thing didn’t result in the outcome you hoped for. However, it’s important to remember that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is only one part of the resuscitation process and that saving someone who has experienced a cardiac arrest is not always possible.

Feeling confused and upset is understandable when a resuscitation attempt does not achieve the desired outcome

While CPR is often thought of as a lifesaving technique, it is actually designed to be a time-buying intervention. When we perform CPR, we compress the heart, a hollow organ with four chambers, in an attempt to artificially circulate oxygenated blood throughout the body. However, when a person is in cardiac arrest, the heart is either unable to contract in a coordinated fashion or is not contracting at all. This means that it is not circulating oxygenated blood, and the body begins to die biologically.

CPR is only one part of the resuscitation process and that it is not always possible to save someone who has experienced a cardiac arrest.

As soon as there is no pulse and no breathing, the person is considered to be in clinical death. This does not necessarily mean that they will remain dead, as there is a distinction between clinical death and biological death. CPR tries to compress the heart manually in an effort to compensate for the lack of normal circulation. We aim to compress the heart at least 5 – 6 cm (2 to 2.5 inches) deep in order to maximize this circulation. However, even when CPR is performed perfectly according to textbook guidelines, it is only a small part of what the body needs to survive.

CPR is actually designed to be a time-buying intervention.

CPR is not artificial life support, as it does not stop the dying process. Rather, it slows down biological cell death in the hope that emergency medical services can be activated and advanced life support, including cardiac monitoring, oxygenation, drugs, and defibrillation, can restore more efficient and effective circulation of oxygen. The success of CPR depends on many factors, including the underlying cause of the cardiac arrest, the time that has elapsed since the arrest and the individual’s overall health.

The success of CPR depends on many factors.

Patients of all ages experience cardiac arrests, and there have been cases where patients who seemed likely to survive have died, and others who appeared unlikely to survive have made a full recovery. These outcomes can be difficult to understand and can be emotionally challenging for all involved. A rescuer’s goal is to provide the best possible care for every patient and to give them the best chance of survival. It’s important to remember that every person has a limited time on this earth, and we don’t always know when that time will come. CPR is a valuable tool in emergency situations, but it is not intended to directly save lives on its own. Instead, it is meant to buy time and slow down the biological processes that lead to death while medical professionals work to address the underlying cause of the cardiac arrest.

It’s important to remember that every person has a limited time on this earth, and we don’t always know when that time will come.

If we approached CPR with an understanding of its physiology and cardio physiology, rather than our perceived notions of it, we would recognize that when a person is in cardiac arrest and we do our best to perform CPR, they are still dead, regardless of their identity. It’s heartbreaking to see someone you are trying to save pass away, but it’s important to continue trying to provide CPR in emergency situations and not let feelings of frustration or disappointment prevent you from potentially helping someone. While CPR may not always lead to the desired outcome, it is still a valuable tool in the resuscitation process and can sometimes make the difference between life and death.