Friday, January 28, 2022

How Do I Know If I Should Perform CPR?

CPR is a lifesaving technique used for anyone who has slipped into cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is a life threatening condition where the heart stops beating. This can cause tissue and brain damage, and even death. Sudden cardiac arrest is caused by ventricular fibrillation, a condition where the heart spasms and stops.

CPR involves chest compressions and rescue breathing to circulate oxygenated blood throughout the body and restore a normal heartbeat. AEDs are often used specifically to administer an electric shock to the body and restore a normal rhythm to the heart.

Bystanders can receive instructions on how to perform CPR online and there are many online CPR certification courses available to anyone looking to sharpen their response skills. This article intends to explain some of the various guidelines and protocols determining when you should perform CPR. It is by no means an exhaustive instructional guide but it can provide some insight. 

They Are Not Breathing 

If the person has stopped breathing, you should perform CPR to circulate their blood and prevent tissue death. Without blood flow and oxygen, the heart stops beating and brain death can ensue.

The average person can only go for six minutes without oxygen before sustaining irreversible brain damage. However, if you start CPR within that time period, you double or triple the person’s chances for survival. 

Occasional Gasping Breaths 

If someone enters cardiac arrest, they may breathe for a period. If their breathing is abnormal, particularly if they are gasping for breath sporadically, you should start CPR chest compressions right away. 

The Heart Has Stopped 

Before beginning CPR, you should check the person’s pulse to see if you can detect a heartbeat. If you cannot feel a pulse, you should begin CPR immediately. Chest compressions keep the blood flowing to the heart and brain until emergency responders take over and can implement more advanced methods.

The Person Is Unconscious

If the person is unconscious, not breathing, and you can’t detect a heartbeat, you should intervene using CPR. Even if they are still breathing when you arrive, you should monitor them until emergency services arrive. Patients’ conditions can quickly worsen and they can quickly lose control of their breathing. 

When Should You Start Chest Compressions?

If you determine someone needs CPR, do not delay. The earlier you begin CPR, the more you improve their chances for survival. Delaying longer than necessary can result in damage to the brain or other organs, leading to more health problems.

Why Would Someone Need CPR?

Cardiac arrest can occur from a multitude of events. It can be sudden, which is typically caused by ventricular fibrillation. If someone endures a near drowning experience, they might slip into cardiac arrest. Electrocution can stop the heart due to the interruptions in the electrical signals sent from the brain to the heart. People involved in car accidents also might slip into cardiac arrest. 

When Should You Not Perform CPR?

While CPR is one of the most useful responses a bystander can use to ensure someone’s safety during cardiac arrest, they also need to consider their safety and the safety of others before beginning chest compressions. If the area is too dangerous or if the person has normal vitals, there is no need for a bystander to perform CPR. 

The Area Is Too Dangerous

In the event of a near drowning or electrocution, the area might not be safe to try to perform CPR. Choosing between delivering CPR in a hazardous situation is a difficult decision for anyone. However, you should weigh the risk before trying to perform CPR. If the likelihood of you sustaining harm is higher than the chances you can remove the person from the hazardous situation, you should call 911 and wait for emergency services to arrive with the proper equipment and expertise to respond to emergencies with that degree of risk. 

The Situation Seems Suspicious 

If you come across a person lying down and they seem like they need help, but something about the situation doesn’t seem right, you should pause and examine the surroundings. Unfortunately, criminals often fake distress to lure you in. If you are in a group of people, you shouldn’t have to worry about this as much. However, if you are alone during the night walking home, you should take extra precaution before helping the bystander. 

The Person Is Still Breathing At a Normal Rate 

If someone is still breathing normally, you shouldn’t have to perform CPR. Oxygen is still flowing to the brain. If they are unconscious, call 911 and watch them to see if their condition changes. If it does not, wait for emergency responders. If they stop breathing, you should begin CPR immediately.

During the time you wait for emergency responders to arrive, if you are with someone else, you should direct them to look for an AED. If their condition changes and you have an AED on hand, you should use that instead of performing CPR.

When Should You Stop Giving CPR?

There are instances when you should suspend giving CPR and the person might not need your help anymore. Some of those instances are as follows:

  • If the person returns to a stable condition or regains consciousness or starts breathing normally on their own, stop performing CPR. This means your efforts were a success. 
  • If the area becomes unsafe or dangerous, you should discontinue your CPR efforts. For example, if you find someone in a bad storm or you get caught in dangerous traffic, you need to take care of yourself and others, as well.
  • If emergency personnel arrive, you should let them take over. 
  • If an AED becomes available, you should use the AED. You should also use it throughout resuscitation.
  • CPR is the first step in the chain of survival but it is also physically demanding. If you have been performing CPR for a long time, you might get exhausted. If you are fatigued, you won’t think as clearly and you might make mistakes. If you are not sound of mind, then you shouldn’t perform CPR.

Conclusion- How Do I Know If I Should Perform CPR

Performing CPR can be a lifesaving measure during cardiac arrest but there are certain instances when you should examine the scene and make sure it’s safe to perform CPR. In situations where you fear for your safety, you should contact emergency services immediately. They have the expertise and tools to assist during these situations.

You should always perform CPR if the person is not breathing, they are gasping for air, their heart has stopped, or they are unconscious. You should stop giving CPR if medical personnel arrives, if an AED arrives, or the person regains consciousness.

This is a guest blog entry.

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