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About cardiac arrest

Our heart provides a constant flow of blood with oxygen to the body’s organs – most importantly to our brain. When oxygen demand increases e.g. when exercising, the heart beats faster and when we relax, the heart beats slower.

The heart is mostly controlled by its own web of nerves, which ensure that the various chambers inside the heart contract in the right order. This creates a pumping mechanism to ensure blood flow. But the relatively complicated structure and autonomous nerve-web makes it susceptible to complications and hearth problems.

Cardiac arrest is one of the typical types of heart complications – not to be confused with stroke or heart attack. When a person suffers from cardiac arrest, the flow of blood in the body stops due to a fault in the heart. Overall, there are two types of cardiac arrest:

  • Asystole cardiac arrest and
  • Atrial fibrillation

In Asystole cardiac arrest, the heart completely stops beating, which halts the blood flow in the body. Asystole cardiac arrest is the rarest of type, which is fortunate; there are less options of treatment and the survival rate is very low.

In Atrial fibrillation, the heart still beats, but at a rate so fast that the pumping mechanism inside the heart no longer works. The state is comparable to a muscle cramp. This is also the only type of cardiac arrest where a shock from an AED can be used.

Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time – not only elderly or people with heart complications. Therefore, it is very important to act fast and perform CPR as soon as possible.

Sudden cardiac arrest is responsible for about 20 % of all deaths in Europe. If left untreated, victims typically die within a few minutes.

The most necessary treatment to increase chances of survival is the first aid provided by witnesses. At the moment, the survival rate ranges between 5 % and 20 % in European countries. In best case, this means that one out of five victims survive cardiac arrest.

Chain of survival

There are generally considered to be four steps to save a victim of cardiac arrest, explained as a chain of survival. Each link in the chain is vital, as lives can be lost at each stage if the necessary actions are not taken in time. To understand the importance of the different steps in the Chain of Survival, think of it like an actual chain: if a single link is not performed fast or well enough, the entire chain breaks. In this case, it is a matter of survival.

Chain of Survival

Four steps in Chain of Survival

  1.  Early Recognition and call for help
    1. If you know the symptoms of cardiac arrest, you can effectively speed up this step. It also helps to keep a cool head in what suddenly becomes a stressful situation. Being able to more efficiently identify cardiac arrest and call for help, will help speed up this process. Immediately after, the bystanders should move on to the next step
  2. Early CPR
    1. High quality Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) can provide some blood flow to the brain, which helps preserve the victims body functions, and especially the brain, until professional aid arrives. Victims rarely regain blood flow or consciousness while they receive CPR, so it is important to keep going even if you can’t see any change in the victim’s condition.

3. Early Defibrillation

1. If multiple bystanders are available, one or more should find an AED, if one is available. Bystanders need to run fast and possibly quite long to retrieve an AED within the first vulnerable minutes. The use of an AED can increase the chance of survival drastically, but only if bystanders respect and follow the earlier links in the chain of survival.

4. Early advanced care

1. When the Emergency Medical Services arrive, and if they find vital signs or the prospect of resuscitation, they will transport the victim to the Hospital. Here they will do their very best to ensure a steady beat of the heart and recovery of the entire body. The specific treatments can vary depending on victim’s condition, but in general this is a step most victims survive, if they make it this far in the chain of survival.

CorPatch® reinforces the Chain of survival

Chain of Survival with CorPatch

How CorPatch® guides you in the first two crucial steps of the Chain of Survival

Deakin’s latest research of Chain of Survival indicates that the first two steps are the most important and crucial in the series of actions that can increase survival rates after sudden cardiac arrest.

With CorPatch® and the free CorPatch® app, you are asked a series of questions to identify whether the victim is suffering cardiac arrest. After answering these questions, you are guided to take action and perform CPR.

CorPatch® ensures that you have identified and recognised that victim has cardiac arrest. It also reminds you to call an ambulance as the first step, so that you can inform emergency services immediately.

In the next link, CorPatch® plays a crucial role and is a new tool for strengthening the chain of survival. CorPatch® guides you to give early and high-quality CPR, which can help you save a life.

Use CorPatch® for scientific studies and research

We cooperate with several specialists and scientists to constantly improve first aid and cardiac arrest.

If you want to use data from CorPatch® in your research or study, please contact us.

Useful links

Factors modifying the effect of bystandercardiopulmonary resuscitation on survival in out-of-hospital cardiac arrestpatients in Sweden
Association of National Initiatives to Improve Cardiac Arrest Management With Rates of Bystander Intervention and Patient Survival After Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest
Emergency dispatch, FirstAED global positioning of first responders with distinct roles – a solution to reduce the response times and ensuring early defibrillation in the rural area Langeland
Better management of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest increases survival rate and improves neurological outcome in the Swiss Canton Ticino
Good outcome in every fourth resuscitation attempt is achievable—An Utstein template report from the Stavanger region
Retention of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Skills in Medical Students Utilizing a High-Fidelity Patient Simulator
Effect of real-time feedback during cardiopulmonary resuscitation outside hospital: prospective, cluster-randomised trial
Effects of a mandatory basic life support training programme on the no-flow fraction during in-hospital cardiac resuscitation: an observational study