Automatic External Defibrillator - AED Level 2 (VTQ)

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AED Post Resuscitation Procedures

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Understanding Cardiac Arrest: Causes, Effects, and Interventions

Cardiac arrest is a medical condition characterised by the abrupt cessation of heart function, leading to a halt in breathing and a shutdown of brain activity due to inadequate blood supply. With over a million cardiac arrest events annually in North America and the European Union, it's essential to recognise its potential reversibility with timely medical intervention.

Cardiac Arrest: A Potentially Reversible Condition

Despite its clinical synonymity with death, cardiac arrest can be potentially salvageable, especially during the initial stages. Medical interventions can restore blood flow and reactivate the heart, effectively reviving the patient. However, only 20-50% of resuscitation attempts result in the reactivation of the heart.

Survival Rates Post Cardiac Arrest

Regrettably, complications often follow successful revival, leading to a high mortality rate. Survival rates until hospital discharge are significantly lower. For cardiac arrests occurring outside hospital settings, survival rates can range from 1-15%, while for in-hospital cardiac arrests, discharge rates are around 25%.

Return of Spontaneous Circulation (ROSC)

ROSC signifies the resumption of sustained cardiac activity, coupled with considerable respiratory effort following cardiac arrest. Signs of ROSC include observable breathing, coughing, or movement, a palpable pulse, and measurable blood pressure. Interventions such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillation can enhance the chance of achieving ROSC.

Post-Resuscitation Complications

Despite the successful recovery of heartbeat post-resuscitation, significant organ damage often leads to eventual death. Estimates suggest that a third of these deaths result from brain or neurological damage, another third from heart or myocardial damage, and the remainder from various inflammatory processes.

The Impact of Cardiac Arrest on the Brain

Within the brain cells, oxygen levels rapidly diminish, reaching zero within approximately two minutes of a cardiac arrest. Simultaneously, energy stores are depleted, leading to toxic material accumulation within the cells, such as lactate and acid. This cellular toxicity results in extensive cell damage and, ultimately, cell death.

First Aid Approach in Cardiac Arrest Cases

While first aid cannot directly counteract future brain damage, it can significantly help manage and monitor the patient's condition. Important steps include monitoring the patient's breathing, pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation (if possible); administering oxygen; positioning the patient correctly; preparing for a potential cardiac arrest; and providing detailed information to medical professionals, potentially including data from an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) unit.

Learning Outcomes:
  • IPOSi Unit two LO1.6