How to Avoid Cardiac Arrest: Why So Few People Survive Out of Hospital

ProTrainings How to Avoid Cardiac Arrest: Why So Few People Survive Out of Hospital

“Heart attack” is one of the scariest terms in the English language, and rightly so. Cardiac arrest statistics in 2022 revealed that 356,000 people in the United States experience cardiac arrest each year, which is nearly 1,000 per day. Close to 90% of these cases are fatal, and those who survive can experience a permanent loss of health.

Those are some sobering numbers. Because heart attacks are so often fatal even when treated, it’s essential that healthcare staff understand how to avoid cardiac arrest and recognize who is most at risk. To do this, we first need to know what cardiac arrest is and what causes it.

What Is Cardiac Arrest, Exactly?

Cardiac arrest occurs when someone’s heart stops beating suddenly. This is the result of something interfering with the functioning of the cardiac conduction system—a network of cells that transmits electrical signals that keep your heart beating. 

Without their hearts pumping blood, patients will die very quickly unless they receive first aid. Even with emergency medical treatment, the survival rate for out-of-hospital heart attacks is only about 10 percent.

Why Is the Fatality Rate so High?

Without blood carrying oxygen to the brain and other organs, they get damaged and die very quickly. Your brain can only go four to six minutes without oxygen before experiencing permanent damage or death.

ProTrainings How to Avoid Cardiac Arrest: Why So Few People Survive Out of Hospital

In cases of cardiac arrest, the patient’s only hope is to get their heart jumpstarted as quickly as possible, either by administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or using a defibrillator.

Even when resuscitation is successful, the prognosis for many patients is not bright. Lack of circulation for any amount of time is extremely dangerous and can cause fatal tissue damage, even if EMTs manage to restart the person’s heart.

What Are the Biggest Cardiac Arrest Risk Factors?

There is a wide variety of factors that contribute to a person’s likelihood of experiencing a heart attack. These things include:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Increased age
  • Obesity
  • Damage to the heart tissue, such as myocarditis

Healthcare professionals and caretakers should monitor individuals with these risk factors carefully for cardiac arrest symptoms. Of all of the risk factors, coronary heart disease is the most prevalent. If the patient has a family history of heart disease, make sure they understand the steps they can take to reduce their risk.

In addition to disease, some kinds of acute trauma or injury can cause cardiac arrest. Emergency medical personnel should understand that electrocution, asphyxiation, and severe blows to the chest can cause heart attacks.

How to Avoid Cardiac Arrest

Given its high mortality rate, it is vital that everyone on your staff understands how to avoid cardiac arrest. Catching a heart attack early on increases your chances of survival dramatically. Early heart attack symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain 
  • Discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, shoulder, or arms
  • Lightheadedness or weakness
  • Extreme fatigue

On top of knowing early heart attack symptoms, your patients’ risk of cardiac arrest is significantly reduced when they live a more healthy lifestyle. Avoiding alcohol and tobacco can help reduce risk, as can eating a heart-healthy diet. Make sure that at-risk individuals get regular medical screenings to ensure their heart is in good shape.

How to Make Sure My Staff Can Handle Cardiac Arrest?

While an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, knowing how to prevent cardiac arrest is not enough. When there is an emergency situation, you need to be able to trust your staff can handle it quickly and effectively. 

ProTrainings can make sure everyone on your staff is ready to save lives. Getting your whole staff properly trained and CPR certified has never been simpler. Contact us today to learn how ProTrainings can help you make getting your staff CPR certified easier and more efficient.