CPR First Aid

Cardiac Arrest: Perform CPR or Use a Defibrillator First?

Performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and using a defibrillator are both first aid treatments during a cardiac arrest. Deciding which of them may be done first depends on the situation.

Calling 000 for emergency help is advised if someone experiences cardiac arrest. While waiting, performing the appropriate first aid practices for cardiac arrest may help save a patient’s life while emergency help is unavailable. According to NSW Health, a New South Wales Australian government website, first aid treatments include CPR and defibrillation. Both of these methods have their first aid steps. The question is, during a cardiac arrest, which will come first? Below, we’ll discuss to know if one is a better option than the other.

What is CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)?

CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) is a first aid response to someone who has a cardiac arrest. A casualty may experience a loss of consciousness and a stopping of the heartbeat.

CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) is a first aid response to someone who has a cardiac arrest. A casualty may experience a loss of consciousness and a stopping of the heartbeat.

What is Cardiac Arrest?

It is a life-threatening emergency as the heart stops beating due to a heart disease. It may be a cardiomyopathy heart attack, ventricular arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, and other cardiovascular problems. The heart conditions cause abnormal heart rhythm, so the blood flow stops throughout the body.

Is Cardiac Arrest Similar to Heart Attack?

According to the American Heart Association, these heart problems are different. Cardiac arrest happens when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions. In this situation, the heart’s main pumping chambers (ventricles) fail to contract and pump blood. It may lead to a cessation of blood circulation to the vital organs and throughout the body.

On the other hand, a heart attack comes from a blockage that stops the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart causing dead heart muscle tissue. Each of these heart defects has its warning signs and symptoms but some occur in both such as chest pain, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath. Diagnosis of either of these may be done through tests such as electrocardiogram. Both of these are life-threatening emergencies, so they require first aid, emergency medical services, and health care.

What are the Causes of Cardiac Arrest?

According to the National Heart Foundation of Australia, the common cause is heart health issues such as coronary heart disease and heart failure. But, the following may also be risk factors for cardiac arrest.

In some cases, there is also no identifiable cause.

What is the Possible Effect of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

When this happens, there is a severe lack of oxygen, so if there is no treatment, it may lead to a sudden cardiac death. Immediate application of CPR may help increase the chance of survival.

How is Performing CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) Done?

Performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) may be done by following the first aid steps below:

  1. Follow DRSABCD.
  2. Have the person sit or lie in a comfortable position.
  3. Ask the person to explain their symptoms.
  4. If symptoms are severe, continue to develop, or last for more than 10 minutes, call an ambulance. Follow the advice of the operator until medical assistance arrives.
  5. Loosen any restricting clothing.
  6. Check that the person does not have an aspirin allergy and is allowed to take aspirin. If it is safe for them to take, provide the casualty with one aspirin tablet (300mg).
  7. Reassure the person until the ambulance arrives.
  8. Monitor and record symptom development.

If the person is unconscious or is falling into unconsciousness, do the following emergency treatment:

  1. Place the person into the recovery position.
  2. Follow DRSABCD.
  3. Call 000 for immediate medical assistance.

The CPR mentioned above steps may be done for adults and older children. When performing it on babies and young children (0-5 years), there is a different technique. This life-saving first aid management skill for all ages may be learned by enrolling in a first aid course at 191 Reservoir Rd, Modbury 5091.

When Should Performing CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) be Done?

If any of the below situations occur, performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) may be done immediately by a bystander, according to The Better Health Channel. It is a fully-funded website by the Victorian government that provides health and medical information that is quality-assured and reliable. The symptoms below may indicate cardiac arrest which has ventricular fibrillation (a type of arrhythmia) as the main cause.

  • When a person is unconscious.
  • When a person is not breathing normally (they may be grunting, snorting, or taking gasping breaths).
  • When a person is not breathing at all.

It is advised to call 000 for emergency help.

What is a Defibrillator?

A defibrillator is a medical device that sends electric shocks to the heart, so it returns to its normal rhythm.

A defibrillator is a medical device that sends electric shocks to the heart, so it returns to its normal rhythm.

How to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)?

According to Health Direct, the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is the type that is found in public places and may be used by anybody in an emergency. An Australian government-funded service that provides quality-approved health information and advice. It may be used by doing the below steps:

  1. Retrieve the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) by opening its case and turning it on.
  2. Expose the person’s chest. Dry if it’s wet and/or remove medication patches.
  3. Open the AED pads by peeling off the backing and checking for a pacemaker or internal defibrillator.
  4. Apply one pad to the upper right chest above the breast and the other to the lower left chest below the armpit.
  5. Check if the wires are attached to the AED box.
  6. Move away from the person. Stop CPR and clear the person by informing others not to touch them.
  7. Let AED analyze the rhythm.
  8. If the AED message shows “Check Electrodes,” then:
    -Ensure that electrodes make good contact.
    -Pull off the pad and replace it if the chest is hairy.
  9. If the AED message shows “Shock,”
    -Clear the person by making sure no one is touching them.
    -Press and hold the “shock” button until the AED delivers the shock
  10. Resume CPR for two minutes, starting with chest compressions.
  11. Repeat steps 1-10.

When to Use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)?

According to the Australian Defibrillators, an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) must be brought to the person performing the first aid response to someone who has collapsed. A provider of emergency response defibrillators in Australia and New Zealand has been operating since 2005. They also advise calling 000 even before performing any first aid step.

According to the Australian Defibrillators, an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) must be brought to the person performing the first aid response to someone who has collapsed. A provider of emergency response defibrillators in Australia and New Zealand has been operating since 2005. They also advise calling 000 even before performing any first aid step.

What are the Other Types of Defibrillators?

Health Direct lists the other types of defibrillators:

  • Advanced Life Support Defibrillator – is used by medical professionals and is found in hospitals and emergency medical transport vehicles.
  • An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is surgically inserted into a patient’s chest by a doctor or health professional. This surgery is performed on people with a high risk of cardiac arrest
  • A wearable defibrillator – is a vest-like device that people may wear at high risk of cardiac arrest but are not candidates for an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD).

Which May Be Done First: Performing CPR or Using a Defibrillator?

As mentioned above, both are options for providing first aid responses to cardiac arrest, which may be performed after calling 000 for emergency help. But, which first aid option may be done first?

When to Perform CPR first?

If someone experiences cardiac arrest and has no immediate access to a defibrillator, they may be treated with CPR. It may be performed by a certified first aider who may have gone through an accredited first aid course. This course allows a person to acquire the skills and knowledge to respond to emergencies like cardiac arrest.

When to Use a Defibrillator First?

Australian Defibrillators state that using an AED may be done if one is available nearby. Doing so makes it possible for the heart to return to its normal rhythm by delivering the needed shock before it stops. Correct usage of a defibrillator is also a part of first aid training offered by accredited providers in Modbury.

What if Both First Aid Responses are Available?

Sometimes, someone like a first aider who may perform CPR and a defibrillator may be available. This scenario was an example in the Australian Defibrillators’ guide on using an AED. In the second step of their instructions, it was stated to:

  1. Check if the person is breathing.
  2. If not, check if the airway is clear.
  3. Begin CPR.

Locating for an AED was mentioned next on the third step. The exact order of instructions was also advised by NSW Health, a New South Wales Australian government website.

In addition, it is stated for the CPR to be performed and continued until an automated external defibrillator (AED) becomes available, according to Better Health. It is a website managed and authorised by the Department of Health, State Government of Victoria, Australia.

The above instructions from multiple reputable websites may help conclude that CPR may be performed first. Especially since an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) may not always be available and takes some time for the following to be done:

  • Retrieving the AED.
  • Opening its case.
  • Turning it on.

This first step alone may take at least 1 minute, whereas CPR may be administered to a patient as soon as possible.

Conclusion

If someone experiences cardiac arrest, calling 000 for emergency help is advised. Next, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) may be performed, and an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) may be used if one is available. Doing both or any of these first-aid responses to cardiac arrest may help save a patient’s life. Such first aid options may be learned to be performed correctly by enrolling in first aid courses in Modbury.

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