What is Cardiac Arrest?Cardiac arrest is a condition in which there is stoppage of pumping action of heart. It is near death condition when victim does not show any response to any stimuli. If treatment is not started immediately, death occurs. Heart normally beats at the rate of 60 – 90 per min. With each beat it carries nutrients and oxygen to different parts of the body and removes carbon dioxide and wastes from them. Oxygen and Carbon dioxide exchanges are the critical events that are severely affected even when heart stops for few minutes, which endangers life immediately.
What is CPR?Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a treatment process by which heart function and lungs function are assisted by artificial process by chest compression and artificial breaths so that blood is circulated to important organs of the body like brain, heart which dies very quickly when oxygen supply is interrupted for few minutes. Rest of the organs also dies slowly when blood circulation stops and they do not get oxygen.
CPR training is of two types. One is Basic Life Support (BLS) and other is Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). For non-medical personnel in community, BLS (Community CPR) training is given where people are trained to rescue victims with cardiac arrest and try to sustain life of the patient with minimum equipments until medical team starts treatment. They are also given training to use Automated External Defibrillator (AED), which are kept in public places.
Medical personnel are given BLS & ACLS trainings. ACLS training includes use of sophisticated equipments and drugs for managing patients with cardiac arrest in a big team.
International studies have shown that around 80% of cardiac arrest events occur in community. So people in community are the ones who witness this event first and they are the ones who can start treatment immediately until ambulance arrives or patient is transferred to hospital.
Effective community CPR (BLS) procedure has increased chance of survival of victim with cardiac arrest up to 40% from 5%.
National studies have shown that around 20,000 people die of heart attack every year in Nepal.
Causes of Cardiac Arrest
Heart attack is the main cause of cardiac arrest in adults where there is very poor blood supply to heart itself. Obesity, unhealthy food habit, sedentary life styles, smoking, diabetes mellitus, hypertension are few well known factors that causes heart attack.
Rhythm disturbances of heart are another factor which may occur after heart attack or as inborn defect in heart.
Some of the children have rhythm disturbances of heart by birth. They can have cardiac arrest in childhood too.
Sudden choking (food or other particle going in wind pipe) can cause severe depletion of oxygen and can cause cardiac arrest. Drowning is also one of the examples of causes of cardiac arrest.
There are few other medical causes of cardiac arrests too.
Prevention of Cardiac Arrest
Healthy living practice like regular physical exercise, hygienic food habit, regular health check up and changes in life-style may prevent incidence of heart disease and thus decreases chance of heart attack and cardiac arrest.
Proper diagnosis of defect in heart rhythm in childhood can also prevent from sudden cardiac arrest. But some of the disturbances in cardiac rhythm can’t be diagnosed and life threatening arrhythmia causing cardiac arrest may occur any time.
What is an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)?It is the equipment that is designed to be used by non-medical personnel too after BLS training in a patient with sudden cardiac arrest in public places. It is a computerized device and usually is placed in public places like airport, shopping places, corporate offices, children’s play grounds, schools etc in developed countries. It automatically gives very simple instructions during its use to the user in voice prompt and visually or both.