Cardiac arrest – an electrical malfunction in the heart causing an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) disrupting blood flow to vital organs – is a leading cause of death in the United States with more than 350,000 out-of-hospital events occurring each year according to the American Heart Association. When a person has a cardiac arrest, what happens in the following seconds and minutes directly impacts their survival. 90% of victims who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. But these two steps can triple a victim’s chance of life.
If you or a loved one are experienced any of the warning signs above, it’s important to call 911 and seek out emergency care before initiating any level of CPR.
Perform hands-only CPR
After you’ve called 911, get directly over the victim. Place the heel of one hand at the center of their chest. Then, place the other hand on top, securing both hands by locking your fingers together. Push hard and fast giving 100-120 compressions per minute until help arrives.
The steps for performing hands-only CPR for an adult differ from those of an infant or child, and should only be performed on ages 13 and up. Watch the video below to learn how to provide life-saving care for an infant or child.
What are the warning signs?
Cardiac arrests often occur without warning. It’s important to know what to look for if you or a loved one experience:
- Sudden loss of responsiveness
- No breathing
Unlike cardiac arrests, most heart attacks come on slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Sometimes warning signs can be missed because they may be minor or explained away. However, it’s important to seek out emergency care if you or a loved experience:
- Chest pain or discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes
- Pain or discomfort in your arm, back, neck or jaw
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
Could you or a loved one be at risk?
Family history, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are all factors that can influence your heart’s health. The earlier you know which factors impact you and your heart’s health, the quicker you can get them under control decreasing your risk for a serious heart event. Take our free risk assessment to calculate your personal level of risk.
A survivor’s perspective
For Sarah it was a normal day running errands and picking up dinner. But just a few hours later that night after falling asleep, Sarah’s husband woke up to find her in full cardiac arrest. He immediately called 911 and initiated hands-only CPR. For Sarah and her family, those two steps had a life changing impact.
For additional resources, visit the American Heart Association.