cardiac arrest happens when your heart stops pumping blood
around your body.
If someone has suddenly collapsed, is not
breathing normally and is unresponsive, they are in cardiac arrest.
There is no time to lose. Even if you are untrained your actions
When someone goes into cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR
and defibrillation reduces their chances of survival by 10 per
A cardiac arrest is an emergency.
If you witness a cardiac arrest, you can increase the person’s
chances of survival by phoning 999 immediately and giving
- chest compression (pumping the heart by external cardiac
massage), to keep the circulation going until the ambulance arrives
- rescue breathing (inflating the lungs by using mouth-to-mouth
Remember - even if you haven't been trained in CPR
with rescue breathing, you
can still use hands-only CPR.
Help us create a
nation of lifesavers by learning CPR
What causes a cardiac arrest?
The most common cause of a cardiac arrest is a life threatening
abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation
Ventricular fibrillation happens when the electrical activity of
your heart becomes so chaotic that the heart stops pumping and
quivers or 'fibrillates' instead. There are various causes of VF.
These can be problems with your heart, or other causes.
Can you recover from a cardiac arrest?
is possible to survive and recover from a cardiac arrest, if you
get the right treatment quickly. VF can sometimes be
corrected by giving an electric shock through the chest wall, by
using a device called a defibrillator. This can be done in the
ambulance, at hospital, or it can be done by a member of the
public at the scene of a cardiac arrest if there is a community defibrillator nearby.
Immediate CPR can be used to keep oxygen circulating around the
body until a defibrillator can be used and/or until the
What's the difference between a heart attack and cardiac
Although a heart attack can lead to a
cardiac arrest, they are not the same thing.
A cardiac arrest happens when your heart stops pumping blood
around your body. A heart attack happens when when your heart
muscle is starved of oxygen-rich blood. A cardiac arrest does
not always happen because you have a heart
condition, although this can be one of the causes.
Someone who is having, or has had, a cardiac arrest will have
stopped breathing normally and will be unconscious.
Someone who is having or has had a heart
attack will still be conscious and will be breathing,
unless their heart attack has led to a cardiac arrest.
Both a heart attack and a cardiac arrest
are life-threatening. If you witness a cardiac
arrest or a heart attack, you should always call 999