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Heart Attack

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation CPR

 Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a combination of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions that delivers oxygen and artificial blood circulation to a person who is in cardiac arrest. It can be life-saving first aid.

A ‘heart attack’ occurs when the heart is starved of oxygen. A heart attack can ‘stun’ the heart and interrupt its rhythm and ability to pump. If the heart stops pumping, it is known as a cardiac arrest. This is because the heart does not receive enough oxygen and cannot pump blood around the body. There is no heartbeat because the heart is not working. When the blood stops circulating, the brain is starved of oxygen and the person quickly becomes unconscious and stops breathing. Without treatment the person will die.

Causes of cardiac arrest
A cardiac arrest can be caused by:
  • Heart disease – this is the most common cause of cardiac arrest and is the leading cause of death in Victoria
  • Drowning
  • Suffocation
  • Poisonous gases
  • Head injury
  • Drug overdose
  • Electric shock.
CPR can be life-saving first aid
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be life-saving first aid and increases the person’s chances of survival if started soon after the heart has stopped beating. If no CPR is performed, it only takes 3–4 minutes for the person to become brain dead, due to lack of oxygen. By performing CPR, you provide the needed oxygen and circulate the blood, so that the brain and other organs can stay alive while you wait for the ambulance. CPR does not guarantee that the person will survive but it does give that person a chance when otherwise there would have been none.

CPR – the basic steps
These are the basic steps for performing CPR; they can be used for adults, children and infants. They are based on guidelines updated in 2006 to be easier to follow and remember. However, they are only a guide and not a substitute for attending a CPR course.

CPR is most successful when administered as quickly as possible. It should only be performed when a person shows no signs of life; that is, when they are:
  • Unconscious
  • Unresponsive
  • Not breathing normally
  • Not moving.
The basic steps are:
1. Check for danger – approach with care and do not put yourself in danger.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
2. Look for a response – is the victim conscious? Gently touch and talk to them – if there is no response, get help.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
3. Dial triple zero (000) – ask for an ambulance.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
4. Check the airway – don’t move the person. Tilt their head back, open their mouth and look inside. If fluid and foreign matter is present, gently roll them onto their side. Tilt their head back, open their mouth and remove any foreign matter (for example, chewing gum, false teeth, vomit).


Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
5. Check breathing – look, listen and feel for signs of breathing. If the person is breathing leave them lying on their side. If they are not breathing, go to step 6.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
6. Use mouth-to-mouth – if the person is not breathing normally, make sure they are lying on their back and:
  • Open the airway by tilting the head back and lifting their chin.
  • Close their nostrils with your finger and thumb.
  • Put your mouth over the person’s and blow into their mouth.
  • Give 2 full breaths to the person (this is called ‘rescue breathing’).
  • Make sure there is no air leak and the chest is rising and falling. If their chest does not rise and fall, check that you’re pinching their nostrils tightly and sealing your mouth to theirs. If still no luck, check their airway again for any obstruction.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
7. Cardiac compressions – start chest compressions:
  • Place the heel of one hand on the lower half of the person’s breastbone.
  • Place the other hand on top of the first hand and interlock your fingers.
  • Press down firmly and smoothly (compressing to 1/3 of chest depth) 30 times.
  • Administer 2 breaths.
  • The ratio of 30 chest compressions followed by 2 breaths is the same, whether CPR is being performed alone or with the assistance of a second person.
  • Aim for a compression rate of 100 per minute.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
8. Maintain CPR – continue, repeating the cycle of 30 compressions then 2 breaths. Keep going until professional help arrives.

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