World Heart Day 2022: Why CPR is a life-saving skill to help a cardiac arrest patient

CPR. Image courtesy Bruce Blaus

According to the World Health Organisation, the incidence of cardiovascular fatalities in India is increasing drastically by 34 per cent over the previous 26 years.. Moreover, Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) solely, account for 53 per 1 lakh cases, contributing to 5.6 per cent of total mortality in India. With each crucial minute of delay, the chances of the patient’s survival are reduced by 7-10 per cent. Hence, it is the need of the hour to learn more about SCA and some timely treatment strategies that can help in saving lives and reducing mortality.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest is caused by the sudden loss of breathing, heart function, and consciousness. The blood flow to the rest of the body stops since an electrical issue in the heart halts the heart’s pumping action suddenly. If not treated immediately, SCA can be fatal. Hence prompt and appropriate medical attention must be provided to the patient so that survival is feasible. One of the ways in which this can be performed is Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

What is CPR and why do we need It?

CPR is an attempt to restore the cardio-respiratory function and thus circulation temporarily by chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth or mouth-nose respiration. When a person has a cardiac arrest the blood flow stops. As a result, the heart stops pumping oxygenated blood to the brain and other important organs. However, such a person can still be resuscitated biologically by immediately restoring blood supply to the brain and other essential organs. There are around 10 minutes between clinical death and biological death, which allows us to keep the brain alive and save the individual’s life. CPR cannot restart a heart, but it can buy time until medical assistance arrives, or automatic defibrillators are used to shock and restore the heart.

How to perform CPR?

Step 1: Breathing check

First, lay the victim on their back and check if there is any sign of breathing, like chest rising or falling, or hearing the breath. If you do not hear any breathing or hear only sporadic gasps start administering CPR immediately.

Step 2: Begin CPR

30 chest compressions need to be performed. Place one hand on top of the other and clasp your hands together. Push hard and rapidly in the centre of the chest at least 2 inches, slightly below the nipples, with the heel of the palms and straight elbows.

Step 3: Continue CPR

Compress their chest 100-120 times per minute. Between compressions, make sure the chest rises completely. Avoid removing your hands from the victim’s chest and continue this process till medical help arrives.

CPR awareness in India

In India, the correct technique of CPR is only known to less than 2 per cent of the population. In the country, around 4,280 people per 1 lakh population die from cardiac arrest each year. Every minute, 112 individuals die from cardiac arrest. Hence creating awareness and educating the public about CPR is extremely important. In the case of SCA, if ambulances are unable to reach the patients in time, then administering CPR during the first 3 crucial minutes can save someone’s life. Thus, every individual should actively look out for ways to learn more about CPR.

Learning about CPR

Undoubtedly, CPR is one of the most important ‘life-saving skills’ that every person should be familiar with. Ideally, it should be made compulsory in schools and workplaces. It is essential to know CPR since the cardiac arrest victim’s only hope is the CPR provided by first responders or on-lookers. Any delay in initiating the bystander CPR will result in the death of the victim.

You can learn and master the CPR method by enrolling in a CPR training course. If you don’t want to take professional training, you can practice the basic procedures with a dummy or a known individual. In any event, understanding this life-saving technique is critical since it can help you become a rescuer for someone, particularly your loved ones.

The author is Director – Electrophysiology & Cardiac Pacing, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute. Views are personal.

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