CPR and AED: Save a life with basic knowledge

Cardiac events cause the deaths of more than 350,000 people each year

CPR hands on dummy

Basic knowledge of CPR and AED procedures can help save a life.

CPR and access to Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) — portable devices that measure the heart’s activity and produce a mild shock to help restore proper rhythm after a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) — can saves lives.

Knowing how to perform CPR and use an AED could save the life of a loved one.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), approximately 92 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital, but statistics prove that if more people knew CPR, more lives could be saved. Immediate CPR can double, or even triple, a victim’s chance of survival.

Niles Mayrand, director of operations at the U-M Clinical Simulation Center, Dr. James Cooke, medical director of the U-M Clinical Simulation Center, and Debra Yake, U-M’s AHA Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) & Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) course coordinator and an AHA Basic Life Support (BLS) instructor with Livingston County EMS, are all pushing for those increased survival rates in both in-hospital and the out-of-hospital communities. All have a passion for raising CPR awareness and want everyone to know how to perform high quality CPR and use an AED.

Eliminating the fear factor

Although both procedures require training, they are simple to perform if you follow the brief steps. In fact, Debra says, “Operating an AED is as easy as 1-2-3.” Turn “ON” the AED and follow the simple voice prompts in 3 easy steps.

  1. Apply the Electro pads.
  2. State, “Clear” while the AED analyzes the heart’s activity.
  3. State, “Clear” while pressing the “Shock” button, as indicated.

Adhesive pads with clear pictures have electrode sensors and are attached to the chest of the person experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. The electrodes send information about the person’s heart rhythm to a computer in the AED. The AED analyzes the heart’s rhythm to identify whether the heart has a shockable heart rhythm. If a shock is indicated, the AED will give a voice prompt to tell you when to press the shock button on the AED. It is the electrodes that deliver the shock, which is measured in joules-of-energy.

“An AED will not shock a person who is not in cardiac arrest with a shockable heart rhythm, so there is no fear of making a mistake.” Debra says, people are often afraid to use a device they are unfamiliar with but the clear voice prompts are easy to follow and every AED is simple to use, no matter the manufacturer.

She stresses the importance of first calling 911 as soon as you know the person is unresponsive and if you are unsure what to do before attempting CPR or AED use. “While waiting for help to arrive, you should begin with firm, fast chest compressions only (at least 100 beats per minute), then move to connect and administer the AED, if one is available,” says Debra.

Early CPR and AED can improve SCA survival rate

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for an estimated 165,000 out-of hospital deaths per year. Only 7.9 percent of the victims survive. The survival rate increases significantly with early CPR and the use of an AED to help save lives by restoring normal heart rhythm before emergency personnel arrive.

The difference between SCA and a heart attack

According to the AHA, 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home, and many victims appear healthy with no known heart disease or other risk factors. Also, sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when electrical impulses in the heart become rapid or chaotic, which causes the heart to suddenly stop beating effectively. The person can collapse and be unresponsive.

A heart attack (myocardial infarction) happens when oxygen cannot reach your heart muscle due to a blocked artery. The heart muscle can become permanently damaged and part of it may stop working. You may feel symptoms of chest pressure or pain in or around your chest, numbness or heaviness in your shoulder, arm (possibly beginning on the left side) or jaw and/or shortness of breath. Women may experience different warnings of heart attack, such as nausea and back or jaw pain, more often than men. When these symptoms occur, the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is being blocked. A heart attack may lead to cardiac arrest if not treated early.

Prepare yourself to act in an emergency

Debra strongly encourages everyone take a CPR class to prepare themselves in the case of sudden cardiac arrest. She also advises the importance of reviewing the steps frequently. “If you don’t practice or go over the steps, you are likely to forget them,” she says. The AHA recommends updating your CPR training every two years.

Debra has worked with the American Heart Association for 15 years and says there are various types of classes to meet every need and learning style: from Friends & Family sessions and certified Layperson CPR/AED & First Aid courses to Basic Life Support Healthcare Provider certification courses. Many courses can be taken online at your own pace and many AHA-approved training centers will provide the practical portion of the certification course for you. Many will come to your place of business, school, church, community center, health club or office for your convenience as well.

Take the next step:

Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.