Chain of Survival
You don't need to be a trained medical professional to help save a life. As a layperson, having an awareness of SCA and knowing how to respond can make all the difference between life and death. If a layperson witnesses sudden cardiac arrest, they should adhere to these five links of the Chain of Survival
WHAT IS SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST?
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is an electrical disturbance in the heart that prevents it from beating properly. During SCA, the ventricles flutter in a phenomenon known as ventricular fibrillation, making them unable to deliver blood to the body. The heart responds by quivering, rather than beating in a normal fashion. Blood flow to the brain is reduced to the point that the person loses consciousness and collapses. Unless emergency treatment is provided quickly, death usually follows.
Anyone is at risk
There are no warning signs associated with SCA. It often affects those who have experienced previous episodes of SCA, heart attacks, or heart failure; but it can also strike someone with absolutely no history of heart problems.
- CPR, to keep the blood flowing through the body
- Defibrillation, to restore a normal rhythm to the heart
Every minute counts
Medical attention must be administered as soon as possible after the victim collapses; the chances for survival decrease 10% with every minute you wait. The average SCA victim is middle-aged or elderly, although some victims are in their 30s or 40s. More than 70 percent of SCAs occur in the home, which is why home AEDs have the potential to save the lives of countless loved ones struck by cardiac arrest.