In this piece, Amira talks us through CPR and explains why it is a really useful skill for us all to learn.
Disclaimer About This Training Piece
This article will explain in detail what you can expect to do. It will also supplement any existing qualification and experience you have in this subject and procedures, refresh your memory and prepare you for a regulated training course. (Of course, it is not a substitute for a course.) You can also find regulated training courses on Nurses.co.uk. Our courses will build your CPD, provide you with a certificate, and enhance your CV when job hunting.
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Topics Covered In This Article
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure consisting of chest compressions and rescue breaths.
As Nurses and Healthcare Professionals we do our basic life support (BLS) training once a year and I think we always brace ourselves for the day we actually need to carry out CPR.
You always think to yourself you’ll need it in a clinical setting, we very rarely think about a situation where we would end up doing it outside of this setting.
I was really naïve, I never believed I would have to carry out CPR outside of the clinical area.
I always knew that if I needed to, I could but I never thought the situation would arise where I would be initiating CPR.
This happened to me quite recently, so I thought writing an article would be beneficial so we can educate the public as well as ourselves on how important CPR can be and how it can truly help a person’s life.
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Why It Matters
Currently, 9/10 people who have a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital setting unfortunately pass away.
This is a scary statistic, but CPR can help improve these odds.
In addition, if CPR is performed in the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest, CPR can double or even triple a person’s chance of survival.
Cardiac Arrest And What It Means
Sometimes, the terms “cardiac arrest” and “heart attack” are used interchangeably when in fact there is clear difference between them.
Sudden cardiac arrests occur suddenly and often times without any warning.
A heart attack is when a blocked artery prevents the oxygen rich blood getting to part of the heart.
The symptoms of this can sometimes be immediate and intense however oftentimes the symptoms start slowly and persist for hours.
If the blocked artery isn’t reopened quickly, the part of the heart that’s normally nourished by that artery will eventually die, the longer a person goes without treatment the greater the damage.
Common symptoms of a heart attack can include: cold sweats, nausea, indigestion, light headedness/ sudden dizziness, heart burn and pressure or tightness that starts in the chest and spreads to the jaw, arm and back.
A sudden cardiac arrest often happens with no warning it’s often triggered by an electrical malfunction which causes arrythmia (irregular heartbeat).
Due to this, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain or other vital organs.
Within seconds, a person loses consciousness and has no pulse.
Unfortunately, the person will end up passing away if they don’t receive treatment straight away.
The signs of sudden cardiac arrest are: sudden collapse, no breathing and no pulse.
The reason it’s important to know about these two heart conditions is because they are linked.
Sudden cardiac arrests can occur after a heart attack or during recovering. Heart attacks increase the risk for sudden cardiac arrest.
If you suspect someone is having a heart attack, you would call 999 or you emergency number and ask for an ambulance.
This is the most important thing you can do as a bystander.
The 2 main treatments are: surgery to restore blood back to the heart and administering drugs to dissolve the blood clot.
However, if you suspect a person is have a sudden cardiac arrest, you should still call 999 (or your emergency number), you will then be instructed on how to perform CPR.
If you’re not trained in basic life support or aren’t confident it’s best to use hands-only CPR.
This is CPR but just without the rescue breaths.
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CPR In Adults
To carry out hands-only CPR you would:
1) Place one hand on top of the other and interlock your fingers, then place the heel of hand on top of the breastbone in the centre of the person’s chest.
2) Position yourself so your shoulders are over your hands, this will allow you to use your bodyweight instead of your arms.
3) Using your bodyweight press down 5-6cm on their chest.
4) Keeping your hands on their chest release the compression and allow the chest to return to it’s original position.
5) Repeat these compressions at 100-120 compression per minute until an ambulance arrives.
CPR With Rescue Breaths
For this you could do the compressions just like stated above however after every 30 compressions you would give 2 rescue breaths.
To appropriate give rescue breaths tilt the person’s head slightly and lift the chin with two fingers.
This will stop the tongue from rolling back and blocking the airway.
Pinch their nose and seal your mouth over their mouth.
Blow steadily and firmly into their mouth for about a second.
Check to see that their chest rises.
If you can see their chest rise if means you are doing it correctly.
Give 2 rescue breaths and then continue with the next 30 compressions.
CPR On Children (over one year olds)
You should always try to carry out CPR with rescue breaths on a child as often times children have a problem with their airway as opposed to their heart.
Open their airway by placing one hand on their forehead and gently tilt their head back while lifting the chin.
Remove any visible obstructions from the mouth or nose.
You give the rescue breaths the same way however, you would give a child 5 initial rescue breaths then carry on with 30 compressions then back to two rescue breaths after every cycle of 30 compressions.
For compressions in a child, you would only use one hand, placing the heel on the hand on the centre of their chest and push down 5cm.
The quality of compressions is vital, so if you can’t do this with one hand then proceed with two hands.
CPR On Infants
For an infant under 1 year, you would do everything the same however instead of using one hand for compressions you would only use two fingers.
Place the two fingers in the middle of the chest and push down by 4cm, which is approximately one-third of the chest diameter.
Once again, the quality of the compressions is incredibly important, so if you feel you can’t do this with two fingertips then use the heel of your hand instead.
CPR is a vital procedure that we may sometimes overlook but it is in fact a process that is the difference between life and death.
I hope you were able to take something away from this article as sometimes these situations are more common than we think.