Cardiorespiratory arrest: would you know how to act in an emergency?

A cardiorespiratory arrest (CPA) is the abrupt interruption of lung respiration and blood circulation. This also supposes the cessation of the supply of oxygen to the different vital organs, including the brain, causing the death of cells. In these situations, acting quickly is vitally important, because each minute that passes decreases the victim’s chances of survival by 10%.

Currently, more than 30,000 people die each year in Spain from sudden deaths and cardiorespiratory arrest, and only about 20,000 resuscitation attempts are registered. This figure could be reduced by having more cardioprotected spaces, installing more semi-automatic defibrillators (AEDs) in public areas or spaces with a large influx of people, and teaching the population how to act in emergency situations.

Today we give you some of the keys on how to recognize a cardiorespiratory arrest and how to act in these situations.

How to recognize a cardiorespiratory arrest?

The first step to be able to act in an emergency is knowing how to recognize if the victim is in cardiorespiratory arrest. There are some symptoms that will indicate that it is a PCR:

– Loss of consciousness.

– Abnormal breathing or no breathing.

– Absence of pulse.

Normally, if it is not a question of professionals or trained personnel, it is difficult to verify the absence of a pulse. So the most advisable thing is to verify if the victim breathes and if he responds to stimuli. This will allow us to know if we should start cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

How to act in case of stoppage?

If the victim responds and breathes, we will notify emergencies and we will only take care of monitoring the victim until the arrival of health services. In case the victim does not respond or breathe, we will call 911 and carry out resuscitation maneuvers.

Start heart massage

Not everyone can perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation or cardiac massage. It is important that in emergency situations these maneuvers are carried out correctly, so the person must be trained and know resuscitation techniques.

To start the cardiac massage, we will place both hands on the center of the victim’s sternum. It is important that the arms are extended and at a right angle to the body of the victim. Once we have adopted the correct position, we will proceed to perform compressions of between 4 and 5 cm, and a frequency of 100 times per minute. It is important that the compressions are constant, rhythmic and regular.

Using a defibrillator

The next step is to use the nearest defibrillator to restore the victim’s heart rhythm. Semi-automatic defibrillators (AEDs) are designed so that anyone can handle them and, although they require specific training for their use, they are easy to use devices.

To use it, it will only be necessary to turn it on and place the electrodes on the victim’s chest. One is placed under the right clavicle and the other under the left armpit. As a general rule, the position of each electrode is indicated in all devices.

After placing the electrodes, the defibrillator will begin to analyze the victim’s heart rhythm and will indicate whether or not we need to deliver a shock. It is important to remember that no one can touch the victim during the process. After applying the download, Basic Life Support (BLS) must be started. Thus, every two minutes, the defibrillator will re-analyze the heart rhythm, indicating whether we should continue applying the BLS or a shock.

These resuscitation techniques will help to reverse cardiorespiratory arrest until medical assistance arrives.