When someone is experiencing a cardiac arrest, every second matters. In such situations, performing CPR and using an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) can significantly increase the chances of survival for the victim.
CPR is an emergency response involving chest compressions and rescue breathing, while AED is a device that shocks the heart to get it back to a normal rhythm. However, an important question arises regarding the timeframe of when to use an AED and CPR during a cardiac arrest.
Before enrolling for CPR training, most people usually wonder should you perform CPR before or after an AED. Continue reading this article which examines the rhythm analysis during a cardiac arrest and explores the best timing for CPR and an AED intervention.
Symptoms of a Cardiac Arrest
An unpleasant medical experience known as cardiac arrest occurs when the heart abruptly stops beating. During this unfortunate event, the heart cannot pump enough blood to maintain the blood flow throughout the body. As a result, the brain and the lungs eventually stop functioning properly due to the lack of blood flow to the brain and other organs. Death can occur within minutes of the organs ceasing to function.
This condition is caused by a heart issue that ends with an erratic or irregular heartbeat. Additional cardiac arrest causes may indicate physical trauma and arrhythmias. Some signs and symptoms of this unpleasant condition may include sudden collapse and unconsciousness, gasping for air (due to airway blockages), being non-responsive when shaken, and/or having a weak or nonexistent pulse.
The Crucial Role of CPR During Cardiac Arrest
CPR is a crucial component of dealing with a cardiac arrest before emergency personnel arrive. This is due to the immediate blood supply this technique allows, amongst oxygenation to the vital organs, stabilizing them until the performance of more complex interventions is possible.
CPR involves performing chest compressions and rescue breathing in order to get oxygenated blood to all organs, especially the brain. The purpose of CPR, when performed with proficiency and as an emergency responsive act, is to keep the heartbeat in flow, helping the victim regain their pulse.
How To Perform CPR?
Even though this technique is quite effective, doing it correctly is highly significant because it may cause more damage than help the person in need. Below you can find a few outlined steps that must not be missed when performing CPR.
Step 1: Evaluate the Circumstances
Before performing CPR, it is important to assess the situation, ensuring that there is actually a need for action. If the person is not speaking or has some other cardiac arrest symptoms, call for proffesional assistance right away. The emergency medical personnel can easily guide you through the following steps.
Step 2: Widen the Airway
To perform CPR on a person, you must open the airway if there is an obstruction. Gently tilt the head back and lift the chin. This will help widen the airway further while enabling airflow.
Step 3: Check for Pulse
Check their pulse. Check if they are breathing by placing your ear close to the person’s mouth and nose. Notice if the chest keeps rising and falling. If the person is not breathing well or if they are not gasping air at all, then it’s your cue for CPR intervention.
Step 4: Start Chest Compressions
Position your hands on the person’s chest, right in the middle between the nipples. Place your other hand on top of the first hand, and interlock your fingers. Using your hands, apply quick and forceful pressure, going about two inches deep. Use between 100 and 120 compressions per minute to get the heart restarted.
AED’s Function in Cardiac Arrest
A portable electronic device called an AED can deliver an electric shock to the heart to restore the heart rhythm of cardiac arrest victims. The good news about AED devices is that non-medical employees, such as first responders or bystanders, can also use them for rapid defibrillation in public areas.
Early defibrillation with an AED is a crucial emergency response that needs to be applied in order to improve the treatment of cardiac arrest. This will help to increase survival rates and reduce the risk of brain damage.
AEDs (automated external defibrillators) are equipment that can be located in a number of public locations, including schools, homes, and other buildings. These mobile, compact, and portable devices can only be sold and used according to the FDA’s strict guidelines.
AED Required Steps
When a person near you experiences a cardiac arrest and becomes unconscious, follow these few steps to provide the necessary help when using an AED device:
- Step 1: Once you assure yourself that you cannot feel the victim’s pulse and they are not breathing, call 911 for emergency assistance. This way, you will feel encouraged that you are not alone and help is on the way.
- Step 2: Turn the AED on. Luckily, modern automated external defibrillators provide you with voice instructions and recommendations. Ensure that the victims’ clothes covering the chest are removed. The chest should be dry before you apply the pads.
- Step 3: Apply the pads to the victim’s exposed chest. Place one on the chest’s lower left and one on the upper right side. Follow the instructions provided by the device and ensure no one touches the victim.
- Step 4: Deliver the shock. While the pads are in position, the AED automatically assesses the patient’s heart rhythm and determines whether an intervention is needed. If so, the machine instructs the user to take a step back and press a button to administer the shock. When a shock is not required, the AED is designed not to deliver one.
Timing is Crucial in CPR and AED
In the treatment of cardiac arrest, the timing of using CPR and an AED can make a whole lot of difference in a person’s life. Bystanders are advised to administer an AED and start performing CPR on patients who appear to be experiencing cardiac arrest ASAP.
The ideal order for performing CPR and using an AED is not strictly established and may vary depending on the situation. In some cases starting with CPR and following with AED provides a better chance of restoring the person’s life, while in other scenarios, using AED prior to CPR proved more effective. Hence, the order in which CPR and AED are administered can impact both the efficiency of each intervention and the final result of the resuscitation effort.
CPR Prior to AED
Giving CPR priority to AED may increase the effectiveness of the resuscitation attempt and the likelihood that the following defibrillation will be successful. CPR helps preserve the heart’s electrical activity and increases the blood flow and oxygenation to the vital organs.
The likelihood that the patient will survive until the resume of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) requires using AED after chest compressions are made. In some situations, when the patient is in ventricular fibrillation (VF), or ventricular tachycardia (VT), and an AED is not immediately accessible, delaying defibrillation in favor of CPR may be appropriate.
In the majority of instances, performing defibrillation ASAP in an emergency is equivalent to performing CPR for the predetermined amount of time before administering the first shock. However, it takes several minutes to switch on the defibrillator, extend the cables, connect the pads, charge the capacitor, and deliver the shock.
There is no reason the patient cannot continue to get chest compressions while setting up the AED. Hence, the timing and priority of CPR to AED mostly depend on the level of quickness a bystander can access and set up an AED.
AED Prior to CPR
In certain cases, using AED before CPR is definitely something to be considered. For example, consider you are alone with an individual who experiences sudden cardiac arrest. Unlike a crowded public space, here you can easily get an AED within three minutes, and starting with an AED is probably a preferable option.
Even though CPR is a crucial emergency response, an Automated External Defibrillator (ideally found within three minutes) must be used with competency to shock the person experiencing cardiac arrest. Once you call 9-1-1 for additional help, finding the nearest AED can be the next crucial step during your immediate action. After you follow the instructions provided by the device and deliver the first shock when instructed by the AED device, it’s time to prepare for further CPR intervention.
Analyzing different data in this article, we reached a conclusion regarding the question: Should you perform CPR before or after AED? Namely, it depends on the given situation and whether or not you are aware of the existence of an AED nearby.
What is most important is that both CPR and AED can revive a person’s life, increasing the chances of survival only if the action taken by bystanders is properly handled. That’s why taking CPR classes and getting CPR and AED certified is the right step to saving a life.