Sudden Cardiac Arrest First Aid

Cardiac arrest is a medical emergency. The chances of survival diminish rapidly and will result in death within 10 minutes. However, with quick intervention, within the first few minutes, it can be reversible in most cases. 

Administering first aid treatment by means of CPR and an AED will give the victim the best chances of survival until medical emergency services arrive and take over. Even if you are not trained in CPR first aid, any attempt at resuscitation is better than no attempt. 

What to do if someone is having a sudden cardiac arrest?

Every minute counts, literally. Waste no time. 

  1. Call Triple Zero (000) to request an ambulance. The Triple Zero operator will instruct you.
  2. Start CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation).
  3. Shock – use an AED. Anyone can use a defibrillator. The AED will instruct you.

Continue CPR until the ambulance arrives. Follow the guide below on how to perform CPR on an adult, child or infant. 

Sudden cardiac arrest CPR and AED instructions

What is sudden cardiac arrest?

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating.

An electrical malfunction causes the heart to stop pumping normally and prevents the body from delivering oxygenated blood to vital organs — in particular the heart and brain.

The heart’s inability to pump blood around the body leads to cardiac arrest, causing it to stop completely.

The person in cardiac arrest will lose consciousness and stop breathing. Without chest compressions and the use of a defibrillator, they will not survive.

A cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack.

A person experiencing a heart attack may feel chest pain, but they will usually be alert and breathing. 

A worsening heart attack sometimes leads to cardiac arrest. There’s a good chance this can be prevented if first aid treatment is administered to the person experiencing the heart attack, within 10 minutes of symptoms.

What are the signs of sudden cardiac arrest?

Cardiac arrest is closely linked with sudden chest pain. A sudden cardiac arrest is unlikely to have any preceding telltale signs that one is looming.

 A person in cardiac arrest will: 

• collapse to the ground

• stop breathing or gasp for air

• lose consciousness & become unresponsive

• have no pulse

Cardiac arrest can happen anywhere, at any time. Most cardiac arrests that occur out of the hospital, occur in people’s homes.

Can you survive a sudden cardiac arrest?

Over 30,000 Australians a year have a cardiac arrest out of the hospital. Fewer than 10% will get to leave the hospital and go home.

Sudden cardiac arrest statistics in Australia

Prompt first aid treatment dramatically improves the odds.

CPR/defibrillation proficiently as soon as possible after the collapse is needed to restart brain activity. Otherwise, life after a cardiac arrest will likely be impacted by brain damage.

After a cardiac arrest, doctors will try to determine its cause, before prescribing treatment options to reduce the risks of further episodes.

Many cardiac arrest survivors go on to live healthy, fulfilling lives thanks to the quick action of a bystander calling 000, and starting chest compressions and defibrillation (AED).

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute, replace, or qualify as any form of first aid training.

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