How To Deal With Sudden Cardiac Death

By Ashka Patel

High Desert Daily

(Victor Valley)–Each year 325,000 adults die from Sudden Cardiac Arrest in the United States. Sudden Cardiac Death is responsible for half of all heart disease deaths. High Desert Daily would like to notify it’s readers that Sudden Cardiac Death can be avoided if proper treatment is given such as CPR. It’s a necessity for local residents to learn this very important life saving technique. To learn this technique can be the difference between life and death. Listing below are some guidelines for performing CPR.


Sudden Cardiac death, for comparable reasons is similar to when a natural disaster hits, the power goes off and the lights go out. It’s a common scene that plays out during hurricane and tornado seasons, and it’s very similar in trying to explain sudden cardiac arrest. The heart sustains an insult, the electricity is short circuited, the heart can’t pump, and the body dies.

The Public should  be prepared for cardiac emergencies:

  • Know the warning signs of cardiac arrest. During cardiac arrest a victim loses consciousness, stops normal breathing and loses pulse and blood pressure.
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately to access the emergency medical system if you see any cardiac arrest warning signs.
  • Give cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to help keep the cardiac arrest victim alive until emergency help arrives. CPR keeps blood and oxygen flowing to the heart and brain until defibrillation can be administered.

What is cardiac arrest?

Cardiac arrest is the sudden, abrupt loss of heart function. The victim may or may not have diagnosed heart disease. It’s also called sudden cardiac arrest or unexpected cardiac arrest. Sudden death (also called sudden cardiac death) occurs within minutes after symptoms appear.

What causes cardiac arrest?

The most common underlying reason for patients to die suddenly from cardiac arrest is coronary heart disease. Most cardiac arrests that lead to sudden death occur when the electrical impulses in the diseased heart become rapid (ventricular tachycardia) or chaotic (ventricular fibrillation) or both. This irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) causes the heart to suddenly stop beating. Some cardiac arrests are due to extreme slowing of the heart. This is called bradycardia.

Other factors besides heart disease and heart attack can cause cardiac arrest. They include respiratory arrest, electrocution, drowning, choking and trauma. Cardiac arrest can also occur without any known cause.

Can cardiac arrest be reversed?

Brain death and permanent death start to occur in just 4 to 6 minutes after someone experiences cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest can be reversed if it’s treated within a few minutes with an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal heartbeat. This process is called defibrillation. A victim’s chances of survival are reduced by 7 to 10 percent with every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation. Few attempts at resuscitation succeed after 10 minutes.

How many people survive cardiac arrest?

No statistics are available for the exact number of cardiac arrests that occur each year. It’s estimated that more than 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital. In cities where defibrillation is provided within 5 to 7 minutes, the survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest is as high as 30–45 percent.

What can be done to increase the survival rate?

Early CPR and rapid defibrillation combined with early advanced care can result in high long-term survival rates for witnessed cardiac arrest. For instance, in June 1999, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were mounted 1 minute apart in plain view at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports. In the first 10 months, 14 cardiac arrests occurred, with 12 of the 14 victims in ventricular fibrillation. Nine of the 14 victims (64 percent) were revived with an AED and had no brain damage.

If bystander CPR was initiated more consistently, if AEDs were more widely available, and if every community could achieve a 20 percent cardiac arrest survival rate, an estimated 40,000 more lives could be saved each year. Death from sudden cardiac arrest is not inevitable. If more people react quickly by calling 9-1-1 and performing CPR, more lives can be saved.

When a person develops cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating. There is no blood flow and no pulse. With no blood flowing to the brain, the person becomes unresponsive and stops breathing normally.

  • When you discover a person whom you believe is experiencing a medical emergency, the first thing to do is check for responsiveness. Gently shake the victim and shout, “Are you OK?”
  • If the person does not respond to your voice or touch, they are unresponsive. If the victim is unresponsive and you are alone, leave the victim and immediately call 911. If someone is with you, tell him or her to call 911 and then return to help you.
  • If an AED is available, bring it back to the person’s side. The moment an AED becomes available, IMMEDIATELY press the “on” button. The AED will begin to speak to you. Follow its directions to use the AED.

Rescue Breathing

You now need to check to see if the person is breathing normally.

  • You do this by first opening the person’s airway. Tilt the victim’s head back by lifting the chin gently with one hand, while pushing down on the forehead with the other hand.
  • Next, place your ear next to the victim’s mouth and nose and look, listen, and feel: Look to see if the chest is rising, listen for any sounds of breathing, and feel for any air movement on your cheek. Taking no more than 5-10 seconds, if you do not see, hear, or feel any signs of normal breathing, you must breathe for the victim.
  • While keeping the victim’s head tilted back, place your mouth around the victim’s mouth and pinch the victim’s nose shut. Give 2 slow breaths, making sure that the person’s chest rises with each breath.

Chest Compressions

After giving 2 breaths immediately begin chest compressions.

  • Place the heel of one hand on the center of the chest, right between the nipples. Place the heel of your other hand on top of the first hand. Lock your elbows and position your shoulders directly above your hands. Press down on the chest with enough force to move the breastbone down about 2 inches. Compress the chest 30 times, at a rate of about 100 times per minute (slightly faster than once every second).
  • After 30 compressions, stop, open the airway again, and provide the next 2 slow breaths. Then, position your hands in the same spot as before and perform another 30 chest compressions. Continue the cycles of 30 compressions and 2 breaths until an AED becomes available or until EMS providers arrive.
  • This technique of performing CPR may be used on anyone older than eight years of age.

You may also contact our local High Desert Chapter American Red Cross who offer training on CPR. For a small fee you will learn a Priceless life saving technique.

High Desert Chapter

American Red Cross

16248 Desert Knoll Dr.

Victorville, CA 92395

Phone: 760-245-6511

1 comment for “How To Deal With Sudden Cardiac Death

  1. April 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    One survivor’s blog:

    I am among the luckiest of the unlucky.

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