Common Questions about Public Resuscitation and AED for Cardiac Arrest
By Dr. Abdurrazzak Gehani Consultant Interventional Cardiologist Chairman at Al Ahli Hospital
Why should I get trained in Resuscitation (CPR)?. You may not believe it, but you can save somebody’s life and that somebody could be a very dear person to you too.
Where does Sudden Cardiac Death happen most often? Statistics show that 70% of Sudden Cardiac Death happens at home. What does that mean?. It means that the person you might save is most likely a father or a mother or a spouse.
Why do I have to do resuscitation at home, if I can call an ambulance and professional paramedics can do that? Yes, you must call an ambulance, but if you also start resuscitation immediately at home, the chance of survival is at least 2 to 3 times higher.
Why do minutes count in cardiac arrest? Because the brain cannot stay without blood and oxygen supply for more than a few minutes, then it will start to deteriorate quickly leading to death.
Is CPR training difficult? No, it is very easy and straightforward. The main points you will learn are: How to do good Chest Compression and how to use the AED. Both are safe practices and usually it takes half to one day.
Can I harm a patient if I give chest compression, but they have simply fainted and not had cardiac arrest? The answer is No. It is more harmful if you do not resuscitate a patient who had cardiac arrest because they are frightened to harm them by chest compression.
Can the AED get it wrong and give shock to somebody who does not need shock? The answer again is No.. Well extensive trials have shown that AEDs are very accurate and they very rarely give a shock if it is not the right rhythm to do so. Is it useless to resuscitate if I cannot give mouth-to-mouth breathing because I am not comfortable doing that?. The answer is No. Chest compression is far more important than giving mouth to mouth breaths. So, please have good chest compression at a rate of around 100 per minute and you will probably save life.
Do I need to do anything else while giving chest compression? Yes, make sure that somebody calls the ambulance and gets back to help you, because you may get tired.
Can I break somebody’s ribs if I do strong chest compression? It is unlikely, but can happen. Still the patient will appreciate more being alive with some broken ribs than dead with healthy ribs. So give good chest compression and do not worry.
Can I harm somebody by giving chest compression when simply fainted not had real cardiac arrest? People who simply faint will usually wake up once you start chest compression.
What is the number to ring if I identify somebody who lost consciousness and may have cardiac arrest? If you are inside Al Ahli hospital it is 4498….., but if you are outside, anywhere in Qatar, the national number is 999
Can I get shocked by the AED when it is delivering the shock to the victim? That chance is small, and that is why the AED will tell you, loud and clear, do not touch the patient.
How do I know that the patient has survived? Many patients will stay unconscious even if their heart starts working again, but many will start coughing, fighting, vomiting or even sitting up.
Can I harm the victim if I continue chest compression if the heart starts pumping again? As we said, some patients may remain unconscious, even when the heart starts pumping again, and this patient you will not know. However, it is unlikely that you will cause them harm if you continue chest compression.
What do I do if the patient starts vomiting after resuscitation? Just turn them on their side, so they do not inhale the vomit into their lungs.
What is important if a victim falls unconscious because they are struck by electricity? Do not touch the patient until you are sure that there is no live electric current still going through their body, because you may be stuck too, and there will be two victims, you are one of them.
How do I know if somebody lost consciousness because of real cardiac arrest or simply fainted and his heart is still working? Not all unconscious patients are in cardiac arrest. There are other causes of loss of consciousness, apart from cardiac arrest, like seizures (epilepsy), brain stroke, low blood sugar and even bad news. If the patient has “normal” breathing then they are unlikely to be in cardiac arrest. If their pulse can be felt, again cardiac arrest is clearly not the cause. However, it is not always easy to assess the breathing, and even more difficult to assess the pulse, because you may feel your own pulse and think it is there.
That is some professional Resuscitating Councils recommend that you start compression in any patient who is unconscious. As we said before, if it is only a fainting attack, they will wake up and stop you. It is better to resuscitate to turn not to have been needed, than not to resuscitate and lose a life.