Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly and abruptly ceases to function. These deadly events are caused by arrhythmias, or abnormal rhythms, of the heart muscle that result in the complete malfunction of the muscle. The most common arrhythmia that leads to cardiac arrest is called ventricular fibrillation, in which the two lower chambers of the heart beat erratically and do not effectively circulate blood.
Do you know how to react when a loved one or stranger experiences cardiac arrest? With the right knowledge and training, you can become a part of the chain of survival and may even save a life. The American Heart Association recommends that you take the following steps in the event of cardiac arrest:
- Evaluate the situation and confirm the medical emergency. If the victim is unresponsive, begin emergency care.
- Call 9-1-1 or have another bystander call.
- Find an AED and follow the steps if one is available. AEDs are often found in gyms, hospitals, community centers, airports, and shopping malls.
- Begin chest compressions by pressing into the chest at least two inches at a rate of 100 compressions per minute.
- If you are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), give two rescue breaths after 30 compressions. If you are more comfortable providing compression-only CPR, do so until the professional healthcare providers arrive on the scene.
Finding a defibrillator and producing an electric charge to the victim’s heart is essential for improving the chances of survival without brain damage. If you are interested in learning more about how to react in the event of cardiac arrest or any other medical emergency, visit the American Heart Association website or contact Good Samaritan Hospital at (888) 724-2362. For any urgent medical needs, the Good Sam emergency room is available every day of the year, 24 hours per day to provide prompt, expert care to the community of San Jose.