A heartfelt plea for children to learn CPR
9:01am Wednesday 20th February 2013 in Local
WHEN someone has a cardiac arrest, you have a matter of minutes to save their life or prevent brain damage.
With only one person in five surviving a cardiac arrest in the UK, heart experts say it is vital that more people learn CPR and how to use a defibrillator.
When someone has a cardiac arrest they become unconscious, lose a pulse within seconds and can die within minutes unless they receive treatment.
Early CPR and defibrillation are crucial in increasing a cardiac arrest patient’s chance of survival. But it is even more important these life-saving techniques are used together, as cardiac expert Dr Peter Scott explains.
Dr Scott, a consultant cardiologist and lead clinician for cardiology at the Royal Bolton Hospital, said: “Firstly, it is important to differentiate between a cardiac arrest and a heart attack, as people often refer to them as the same thing.
“A heart attack is usually a blocked coronary artery, which may cause a cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest refers to a situation where the heart rhythm is severely disturbed so the heart stops pumping. If it is not pumping blood to the brain, the person will black out and remain unconscious. To prevent that person from being brain damaged, you have three minutes to restore the blood supply to the brain.
“Often during cardiac arrest the heart goes into what we call ventricular fibrillation. This is where the muscle is twitching and can no longer pump blood around the body, which means no blood is going to the brain.
“When this occurs, there are two important parts of action. The first is cardiac massage and the second is trying to start the heart by correcting the fibrillation.
“But you have limited time to act to save their life and prevent brain damage.
“The people least likely to survive a cardiac arrest are unfortunately those who are alone at the time.
“If there are no witnesses for five to eight minutes, it is very unlikely the brain will recover.”
According to worrying statistics released by the British Heart Foundation, just 18.5 per cent of witnessed cardiac arrest casualties in June 2012 attended by paramedics survived to leave hospital — just 58 out of 314 casualties.
Dr Scott added: “If someone is able to start CPR immediately, the chances of survival are much higher because cardiac massage will keep the blood pumping around the body until either paramedics or someone with a defibrillator arrives.
“It is very important that CPR and a defibrillator are used together to increase the chances of survival.”