Cardiac arrests explained
Associate Medical Director, Dr Mike Knapton, answers some
frequently asked questions about cardiac arrest.
Monday 19 March 2012
the last few days, the British Heart Foundation has been inundated
with calls about the health of Premiership footballer
Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed suddenly on Saturday. We
hope Fabrice makes a full recovery but only his doctors will have a
true understanding about his current condition and what might have
caused his collapse.
However, here are some of the questions we’ve
1. What is a cardiac
2. What can cause a cardiac
3. How can screening
Lots of heart conditions are inherited and
looking at someone’s family history can help flag
up any potential problems. Cardiac screening involving a test
called an electrocardiogram (ECG) can then help diagnose most
cardiac abnormalities, but not all.
Around 500 young people die
suddenly each year with apparently no
explanation or cause of death. Often an inherited heart condition
is to blame. Our Genetic Information
Service on 0300 456 8383 can provide information if someone in
your family has been diagnosed with, or has died from, what is
suspected to be an inherited heart condition.
4. How important is CPR and
defibrillation during cardiac arrest?
someone has a cardiac arrest they will not survive without prompt
CPR, which could be Hands-only CPR, and
a defibrillator. A defibrillator is a
life-saving machine that can give the heart a controlled
electrical shock during a cardiac arrest. For every minute
that passes without defibrillation chances of survival decrease by
about 10 percent.
If someone has collapsed, call 999
straight away. If you’re unsure or unconfident about
giving full CPR, including rescue breathes, try Hands-only CPR
instead. The technique involves calling 999 and then
pushing hard and fast in the centre of the
casualty’s chest to the rhythm of the Bee Gees, Staying Alive,
until professional help arrives.