The heart is the hardest working muscle in the body and is responsible for pumping blood to every living cell, tissue, and organ. During sudden cardiac arrest, the heart suddenly and unexpectedly ceases to function, halting normal blood flow. This medical event is a serious medical emergency and can result in permanent brain damage or even death if professional urgent care is not sought immediately. Fortunately, much of the damage caused by sudden cardiac arrest can be prevented if a bystander is trained in CPR and a defibrillator is available.
Sudden cardiac arrest is caused by a malfunction of the heart’s electrical system, or the connection of nerve fibers that maintain a steady heart rate. The condition is almost always the result of an abnormal arrhythmia known as ventricular fibrillation. When the heart is in ventricular fibrillation, the two lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) pump erratically and inefficiently, preventing the normal pumping of blood. Without professional emergency care, death can occur within minutes of the onset of this deadly arrhythmia.
If you witness a person experiencing cardiac arrest, your quick response and action may help to save his or her life. After checking to see if the person is responsive, consider following these steps:
- Call 9-1-1
Call 911 or your emergency services as soon as you suspect any cardiac event has taken place.
Sending an electrical shock to the heart with an AED within the first few minutes after cardiac arrest will improve the victim’s likelihood of survival. Delivering the shock as soon as possible will help to ensure that the abnormal arrhythmia can be reset to a healthy heart rhythm.
- Start CPR
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can keep oxygenated blood circulating throughout the body until the paramedics arrive.
- Advanced medical care
Once turned over to emergency medical specialists, the patient can be given oxygen, medications, and other treatments to improve his or her likelihood of survival.
When a medical emergency strikes, make sure that you have a plan for you and your family. At Regional Medical Center of San Jose, our emergency department is dedicated to providing the highest quality of urgent medical care quickly when our community needs it most. Learn more about our comprehensive services by calling (888) 762-8881 today.