Literature and folklore is filled with accounts of resuscitation, as when Snow White, with a slice of poisoned apple in her throat, is kissed backed to life. Medically documented cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), is no fairy tale and dates only to the early 1960s.
Within a short time, CPR and the closed chest compression became widely accepted. Through the efforts of the Red Cross, the American Heart Association and individual health care providers, millions of people have been taught to deliver CPR, significantly reducing the hundreds of deaths that occur daily.
When a person’s heart stops beating or breathing stops, brain damage occurs within four to six minutes. Action must occur very quickly. The goal of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is not to totally revive the individual but to get the heart and lungs working long enough for emergency medical caregivers to arrive on the scene.
In many cases, cardiac arrest is sudden but somewhat predictable. Many individuals have already been diagnosed with coronary artery disease (CAD). Everyone–especially families and friends of individuals with heart disease– should receive CPR training. Community-wide programs in schools, places of employment, housing complexes and city halls typically teach basic techniques while stressing prevention and early recognition of warning signs.
Among children, cardiac arrest is most commonly caused by injuries, chronic respiratory problems or heart disease. Because of this, emphasis should be placed on educating families about injury prevention and proper use of child seat restraints, seat and shoulder belts, and bicycle helmets. Basic life support classes are strongly recommended for anyone who supervises children–parents, babysitters, teachers, etc.
Call 911 First
CPR is most likely to be successful when additional emergency care is received within 8 to 10 minutes. This kind of speed is only possible when there is a well-coordinated emergency response plan. Early recognition of warning signs and early activation of the emergency system–calling 911–are two vital links in this chain of survival. In most cases, it is best to call a 911 operator first, or immediately after doing one minute of CPR.
It is essential for everyone to know how to perform and deliver CPR. We may be placed in a life-threatening situation in which our skills are put to test. In order to learn about CPR and become a life-saver, call the Health Alliance.
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