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Restart a Heart Day – An annual training event
What is cardiac arrest?
When the heart stops pumping blood around the body it can cause a medical emergency called cardiac arrest. Not only does your body shut down, but your brain becomes starved of oxygen. Around 80% of cardiac arrests happen at home, and less than 10% of people who suffer cardiac arrests in the UK survive due to a lack of education or simply because nobody is around to help.
Warning signs can be difficult to spot, but in cases of sudden cardiac arrest there may be no warning at all. Discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath, feeling weak or experiencing palpitations can signal an oncoming cardiac arrest. If you develop these symptoms you should call 999 immediately.
Once cardiac arrest has started, usually a person will fall to the floor, be unresponsive and will begin breathing abnormally. Treatment is needed immediately, otherwise it’s highly likely fatal. Every minute that passes without treatment lowers the survival chance significantly. Around 30,000 people die a year from this condition, but with more awareness and training, thousands more lives could be saved.
How is a heart attack related?
Cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack. Heart attacks happen when the blood supply becomes blocked, usually by a blood clot and often taking place in the arteries. As a result, blood cannot reach the heart. Like the cardiac arrest, there are a few symptoms that can precede a heart attack and may be easier to identify, including chest pain, shortness of breath, feeling weak or lightheaded, and feeling incredibly anxious.
Calling 999 is the best action to take if you feel something isn’t right. You will likely remain conscious, and once you reach hospital, treatment can be carried out through medicines or surgery to dissolve blood clots and restore blood to the heart. However, in some cases a heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest which will require immediate attention.
Treating a cardiac arrest
The first thing you must do if you find someone collapsed on the floor is to assess the situation. If it appears there is no risk of injury, shake them gently and shout to try and wake them up. If they remain non-responsive or are not breathing, call 999.
Next, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, more widely known as CPR should begin immediately. Doing so will keep blood and oxygen circulating around the body and to the brain. However, first gently lay an item of clothing or some cloth over their mouth and nose to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus.
CPR involves quickly pressing down on the person’s chest at about two beats per second. Many health and safety trainers use the song Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees as an example of the tempo you should adopt when performing chest compressions. Keep going until they regain consciousness or until the paramedics arrive to take over.
Staying Safe Using Alternative Measures
Usually blowing rescue breaths into a collapsed person’s mouth is encouraged to help provide more oxygen into the lungs. However, due to the current coronavirus risk, alternative instructions have been issued for performing CPR. Currently, Resuscitation Council UK is advising against getting close to people’s faces to check on their breathing.
Instead, if available a defibrillator can be used to shock the heart into beating again. As they come with instructions, no special training is needed to use one. There’s no risk of cross-infection and it cannot harm the person. Although they aren’t generally kept at home, they are often available in public spaces such as shopping centres, trains and gyms.
Restart a Heart day
To promote cardiac arrest awareness and resuscitation training, the 16th of October 2020 is Restart a Heart Day. Many lives could be saved each year if more people understood and prepared for the issue. This year in particular, the process has been adjusted to keep people safe from COVID-19 transmission.
Resuscitation Council UK have created online learning materials to explain the CPR process and how to teach it to a range of audiences. They also have a unique game-in-a-film called LifeSaver, which puts you in the thick of the action, teaching you essential life-saving skills by playing through different scenarios. You can also read inspirational stories from individuals on both sides of resuscitation.
Public gatherings are especially difficult this year, so many ambulance services have decided to hold digital events online, including virtual training sessions. Search for your local ambulance service online to see if they are hosting one. If not, there are plenty of others to choose from by doing a quick internet search.
Last year, an impressive 291,000 people trained in CPR through Restart the Heart Day. If you’re able to learn, please join in this year. Wouldn’t you want to be near someone who was prepared?
CareDocs has several features that can assist with someone who is recovering from cardiac arrest after their immediate recovery period. Our bespoke care plans are unique to the needs of each individual and can help you provide person-centred care in each aspect of their day-to-day life.
You can also keep track of their medication requirements and nutrition, record health data across various charts, keep a written log of events and emotions relating to activities and therapies, and more.
For more information about how CareDocs can make a difference for your care home, get in touch today. Call us on 0330 056 3333 or email us at SalesGroup@caredocs.co.uk.
British Heart Foundation – cardiac arrest:
NHS – heart attack:
Defib Shop – cardiac arrest statistics:
Resuscitation Council UK – coronavirus changes:
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