Every year approximately 350,000 Americans collapse in their homes, workplace or on the street as a result of cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating and can no longer circulate blood to the brain or through the body. Blood is important because of its ability to transport oxygen and nutrients to the brain and all the cells in the body.
A person in cardiac arrest is unconscious, not breathing, and has no pulse. THE LACK OF A PULSE IS THE MAIN SIGN OF CARDIAC ARREST. A pulse is the beat felt in the arteries near the skin’s surface with each contraction of the heart. The absence of a pulse means there is no blood going to the brain or being circulated through the body. To check for a pulse in an adult or child, feel at the front of the neck for the Adam’s apple and slide your fingers into the groove on one side of the neck. If the heart is beating, you will feel the beat of the blood in one of the big blood vessels that run along both sides of the neck. In cardiac arrest you will not be able to find or feel a pulse.
The cells of the brain and other organs may not die immediately and can live for a short time until the oxygen in the blood is used up. A person in cardiac arrest needs CPR at once. CPR stands for Cardio-Pulmonary-Resuscitation and is a combination of chest compressions and rescue breathing. CPR provides a continued supply of oxygen through rescue breathing and simulates a heartbeat through chest compressions. The techniques of CPR are taught by organizations such as the American Red Cross and American Heart Association.
CPR should be started immediately when a person no longer has a pulse. CPR, however, only provides about one-third the normal blood flow to the brain and is not enough to help someone survive cardiac arrest. Advanced medical care with specialized equipment and medication is needed. This specialized care is provided by Heath Fire Department Fire & Rescue. The emergency 911 number should be called so that Heath Fire Department Fire & Rescue can respond and continue vital patient care to the hospital.