Imagine you’re going about your day with a friend or loved one. When you stop for a quick cup of coffee at a local shop, they suddenly collapse to the ground. They are unconscious, not breathing, and their heart has stopped. They are technically dead.
Close by, a fast-acting employee of the coffee shop sees what has happened and springs into action, while another employee calls 911. They recognize what has happened, see that the person is not breathing and has no signs of life, and immediately begin pushing hard and fast on the person’s chest. They’re performing effective CPR.
While first responders are headed to the scene, the quick-thinking employee is helping to save the victim’s life by performing lifesaving CPR—keeping blood flowing to the victim’s brain.
Fire Department personnel arrive on the scene, and take over care. The victim’s heart is shocked with a defibrillator and other treatments are started. After a few minutes, their heart is beating on its own again. They are transported to a local hospital, where they receive more care and are later discharged.
They have lived to see another day.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops and no longer provides oxygenated blood to the body. When this happens, the brain goes without oxygen as well. Brain death starts about three to five minutes after cardiac arrest. After ten minutes of no oxygen to the brain, the survival rate goes dramatically down.
In the United States, an estimated 350,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest each year. The sudden cardiac arrest death total annually is more than for breast cancer, lung cancer, and HIV/AIDs combined.
Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) can help to keep blood flow to the brain and the rest of the body. CPR performed in the first few minutes can double or triple the chance of survival.
Of those suffering sudden cardiac arrest, only about 5-10 percent survive the event. A positive outcome occurs when a bystander performs high-quality CPR and there has been early use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
In King County, survival from cardiac arrest has been as high as 62 percent. This high survival rate is due largely to the fact that our region emphasizes the importance of high quality CPR from bystanders. Data has shown that survival rates go up dramatically when bystanders recognize the need for CPR and perform it to a high level.