Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR as it is commonly referred to as is often carried out if the patient’s heart stops or is not supplying enough blood and oxygen to the tissues in the body. These patients have either already passed away or maybe near death. So, the goal of CPR training is to teach people to try to bring the person back. In reality, yes CPR is lifesaving but it’s actually a last resort to bring a person who is near death back.
That being said there are two types of CPR the first being termed BLS which too has two parts:
- The first of these part is mostly chest compressions. The objective is to push on the patient’s heart to pump blood to all the various parts of the body.
- The second part is to try to get some oxygen into the victim’s body. This is also often referred to artificial resuscitation or mouth to mouth resuscitation. Doctors will often use a bag that is attached to a mask to resuscitate the victim.
BLS (Basic Life Support), will help to revive people who are either outside of a hospital or inside one. The only thing that even doctors can do when the person’s heart stops or they stop breathing is to try to use BLS methods to bring them back. However, there is another set of methods used called Advanced Cardiac Life Support or ACLS in short. This will include a few steps from BLS but with a few additional ways to get the heart beating again.
- Using usually a series of electrical shocks and drugs to get the heart pumping again. Another doctor or person will continue to press on the victim’s chest to pump blood until the heart starts again.
- The other part of ACLS is to use a tube that is inserted down into the victim’s windpipe and then connected to a bag full of oxygen. Then the doctor or paramedic will squeeze the bag to push some oxygen into the lungs and eventually the heart. Once the victim shows some signs of recovery the bag is replaced by a ventilator which is mechanical device responsible for pumping oxygen automatically until the patient’s blood pressure and beat rhythm return.
It is important to note that ACLS is only carried out by experienced doctors and paramedics. This according to a panel of experts is the best way or approach to bring someone who is on the brink of death back.
The benefits of on the spot CPR
A person who has had CPR training should be able to perform the procedure within a few minutes of a victim’s heart stopping. The chances of the person being returned to life without any serious brain damage or damage to other body parts is high.
The potential risks of CPR
The majority of victims who require CPR because their heart stopped may not survive. Around 10% of victims may make it back after their heart has stopped. This is unlike what you see on television. The fair majority of people think that CPR is a lot more successful than it really is. There are various factors that go into determining if CPR will in fact help save a person’s life. This includes the victim’s age. Older victims have a much lower chance of surviving as opposed to younger ones, it also depends on the various medical issues that the person may have, also if the patient is being treated inside of a hospital or the street as well as how quickly the procedure was performed.
In the rare case that CPR does bring someone back various organs in the body like the brain will have already been damaged. The extent of this damage will depend on the duration of the stoppage. The chances of survival are even lower if the victim’s heart stops outside of a hospital. The danger is that even though CPR may bring back the normal rhythm, enough damage done to the organs will in fact result in eventually death albeit later on.
There is another lesser known risk of CPR which stems from placing a breathing tube. This tube is known to damage the windpipe or it may be placed by mistake into the person’s gullet or even the esophagus causing damage and death.
- License: Creative Commons image source
- License: Creative Commons image source
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Plastic_oxygen_mask_on_an_ER_patient.jpg
Mark has over a decade of experience as a doctor. He has worked on several occasions as a CPR training advisor and expert. He specializes in advanced CPR techniques mainly used by paramedics and doctors.