Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) claims more than 356,000 lives each year in the US. In fact, one person dies every two minutes as a result of SCA, taking more lives than breast cancer, lung cancer, or AIDs. October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month, giving each of you an opportunity to continue to raise awareness for SCA and help your community become familiar with what it is and what can be done to help save lives.
SCA leads to death within just minutes if the person doesn’t receive help right away. While it’s a great start, calling 911 simply isn’t enough in the case of SCA. The amount of time it takes from SCA recognition to the arrival of EMS is usually longer than 10 minutes. That’s 10 minutes without life-saving intervention, even in the best EMS systems.
For each minute in SCA, the chance of survival decreases by about 10%. Brain damage begins after 4-6 minutes without oxygen, and brain death can occur after 10 minutes. This means that after as few as 10 minutes, survival is unlikely.
So, what can be done? Bystanders can dramatically increase the chance of survival by providing immediate CPR and using a nearby AED.
Treating Sudden Cardiac Arrest
If someone is showing signs of SCA (sudden collapse, loss of consciousness, no signs of breathing):
1. Call 911. If there are other bystanders nearby, send someone to get the AED.
2. Begin CPR. Press hard and fast on the center of the chest at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute.
3. Use the AED. Don’t wait – use the AED as soon as it arrives. The AED will provide auditory instructions, making it easy-to-use even if the rescuer has never been trained.
Everyone should become certified in CPR and AED use, no matter where they work or their past experiences. You never know when you may be called upon to save the life of a loved one or a complete stranger.
For Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month, we want everyone to spread the word by sharing this blog, downloading the Quick Action printable flyer, and educating your family, friends, and co-workers. Choosing to act can make the difference between life or death.