How well do you know the signs of cardiac arrest?

Topics: National, First Aid and CPR
September 19, 2012

How well do you know the signs of cardiac arrest?

Did you know that 70 per cent of cardiac arrests happen at home, or that effective bystander CPR when used in conjunction with Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and administered immediately following cardiac arrest can double a person's chance of survival?

During an emergency situation, every second counts. For those in desperate need of assistance as a result of a heart attack, stroke or other emergency, the benefits of First Aid and CPR training offered by the Canadian Red Cross can be immense - especially in the crucial minutes before emergency medical services arrive on-scene.

Each year, the organization helps thousands of Canadians develop life-saving skills that can more than double a person's chances of survival. With ambulance response time averaging eight to 12 minutes in most cities across the country, the risk for permanent brain damage, debilitating injury and loss of life increases with every second a vulnerable person stops breathing after cardiac arrest.

If you were called upon to act in an emergency situation, how well would you respond? If you fear someone may be experiencing cardiac arrest, the first thing you should do is immediately call 911 to ensure that medical staff are alerted to the situation.

However, before experiencing cardiac arrest, many men, women, elder adults and those suffering from pre-existing conditions like diabetes may show soft signs that indicate an attack could be coming.

Soft signs include mild, unfocused chest discomfort that comes and goes, doesn't feel like pain and gradually worsens with activity. Flu-like symptoms, as well as general tiredness and gastric issues, are also warning signs that can precede an episode of cardiac arrest. The more adept you are at picking up on these signs, the more likely you'll be to take action immediately if something occurs.

Training on how to operate AEDs, which are offered to the public and can help determine whether someone is in a state of cardiac arrest, can be vital. An AED is a machine that analyzes the heart's electrical rhythm and, if necessary, tells the user to deliver a shock to the person in cardiac arrest. This is called defibrillation. The shock helps the heart re-establish an effective rhythm. Studies show that if you can defibrillate someone quickly, the chance of survival increases greatly.

CPR and First Aid courses offered through the Red Cross can educate you further on how to recognize signs of cardiac arrest and help you develop the skills to react quickly. Because the organization is the country's leader in First Aid and CPR preparedness training, you can also feel confident that you'll have the most up-to-date knowledge in the field.

To learn more, please visit the website or reach out to your local Red Cross office. 

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