October is the month slated by the Heart Rhythm Society to bring awareness to Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). SCA is the chaotic heart rhythm known as ventricular fibrillation (V-fib). When this happens, the heart is unable to move blood to the rest of the body. There is loss of consciousness and no pulse and the brain lacks oxygenated blood and will begin to die within 4 to 6 minutes. Survival (outside a hospital setting) depends on someone immediately performing CPR to move blood to the brain and organs—considered the support by stepping in to help AND the use of an AED (Automated External Defibrillator)—considered the treatment. Performing CPR and using an available AED device is paramount to the survival of someone experiencing SCA by stopping the chaotic rhythm and allowing the heart to restore its natural rhythm. Even if an AED device is not available, begin and continue CPR—do not stop—until trained paramedics arrive, who then will have an AED device and can also provide additional medical treatment along with transport to a medical facility.
Bordas & Bordas has been front and center in anticipation of being able to help someone that may experience sudden cardiac arrest while in any of our offices in Wheeling, St. Clairsville, Moundsville and Pittsburgh. Training in CPR and the use of AED devices (located in those offices) continue throughout the year with on-site training provided by the Wheeling Fire Department Training Office. Currently, Bordas & Bordas has (roughly) 77 percent voluntary employer/employee participation in CPR/AED training. And since the AED program began in 2001 (in the Wheeling office) by Jim Bordas, there have been well over 70 current/former employees that have received and/or renewed their certification in CPR/AED which has been always been funded by the firm.
Below are fast facts about SCA from the October newsletter sent by the AEDSuperstore (the company that helps us keep our AEDs in proper working order) and who has requested this information be shared. One important and disturbing bit of information provided in the newsletter is that sudden cardiac arrest kills more people in the United States than many of the leading illnesses combined. And as you will see below, it states that having either an AED or a professional defibrillator is absolutely necessary for treatment of SCA. Knowing how to recognize someone experiencing
SCA and then being able to perform CPR properly with rescue breaths (or hands-only) in conjunction with the use of an AED, is the only way someone is going to survive this silent killer—or it greatly increases their chances. Also in this same newsletter, Dr. S. Joanne Dames has provided information on sudden cardiac arrest, of which some of that information I have included in this blog.
So, here are those 20 Fast Facts about SCA:
- Sudden cardiac arrest and heart attack are NOT the same condition.
- The only treatment for sudden cardiac arrest is defibrillation, either by an AED, or with a professional defibrillator. They are both equally as effective.
- Early, quality CPR increases a patient’s survival chances by 30%. Depth of chest compressions should be between 2” and 2.4”, and the rate should be between 100 and 120 beats per minute – about the same as the song “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. [**Please note, in our training here locally in the Wheeling area, the song Baby Shark has a little faster beat and that is the song that is suggested that we hum when preforming CPR ---Susan]
- Only one in 10 people who go into sudden cardiac arrest survive. That means there is a 90% mortality rate. Early CPR and defibrillation increase survival chances.
- Over 350,000 people die in the US from SCA each year. Hopefully, those numbers will decrease as awareness and training increase across the country.
- SCA can happen any time, to anyone, anywhere regardless of age, ethnicity, gender or physical fitness. It does not discriminate.
- Within 4 to 6 minutes of SCA, the oxygen-starved brain of someone in SCA starts to die. CPR keeps oxygenated blood moving to the brain and vital organs. It is a crucial part of survival with neurological recovery.
- Ideally, defibrillation should happen NO LATER than 3-5 minutes after the collapse of the victim, and earlier is the best scenario.
- On average, it takes 8-10 minutes for an EMS team to reach a victim of SCA, longer in rural areas. Bystander intervention during SCA, before EMS arrives is one of the key steps in the chain of survival.
- SCA can be caused by a number of factors including genetic predisposition due to an unknown heart defect, choking, electrocution, overdose, extreme physical exertion, obesity, drowning, and Commotio Cordis (a sudden blow to the chest).
- AEDs are simple to use and have voice prompts to guide you through a rescue. You do NOT need to be a medical professional to use one.
- If you are unsure of how to do rescue breaths, or you are unwilling to do rescue breaths, hands-only CPR is simple to learn and is better than doing nothing.
- Statistics show the more people who are around during a medical emergency, the less likely people are to jump in and help. ALWAYS jump in and help – you are protected by Good Samaritan laws if something goes sideways. As long as you are acting in good faith and to the best of your abilities, you are protected.
[**Please note, each State has its own specific Good Samaritan laws ---Susan]
- You can do CPR on a dog or cat if your pet is non-responsive and not breathing.
- Over 6,000 children under the age of 18 die from sudden cardiac arrest each year. Knowing how to respond to a child in SCA could save a child’s life.
- People who have had heart attacks, both known and unknown, have a higher risk for sudden cardiac arrest at a later date.
- SCA is the leading cause of death among young athletes, losing one to the condition every 72 hours.
- AEDs do not “jump start” the heart. A heart in fibrillation is quivering instead of beating regularly. An AED sends an electrical signal across the heart to interrupt chaotic rhythms so the heart’s sinus node can restart the heart on its own.
- Television and movies have an unusually high rate of success reviving someone using nothing but CPR. In actuality, if someone is truly in sudden cardiac arrest, it would be extremely rare for CPR alone to bring them back. Defibrillation is needed to reset the heart’s rhythm.
- The purpose of CPR is not to restart the heart. CPR is meant to keep residual oxygenated blood flowing to the victim’s brain and vital organs to avoid brain and organ damage until an AED or professional defibrillator can be attached and used to treat the patient.