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  • 03Sep

    Basic Life Support guidelines – do you know them?

    Perhaps the first thing people need to know regarding basic life support is how to recognize life-threatening emergencies. It can happen anytime to a family member, a friend or to you as well.

    Warning signals

    Heart attack is characterized by an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest just behind the breastbone. The feeling may spread to lower jaw, neck, either shoulder or arm. Other signs include light-headedness, nausea and fainting. Sudden cardiac arrest is marked by sudden loss of consciousness. When one-sided facial droop, one-sided arm weakness or speech difficulties are observed, a stroke should always be considered.

    Basic Life Support guidelines – what to do?

    Imagine yourself walking along a sidewalk and you find a person who is lying on the ground. What would you do? How would you react?

    The first thing you need to do is to examine the safety before you get closer to the lying person. It would be pointless if in the act of trying to help someone, you hurt yourself along the way. You would be just additional person requiring help.

    Sudden heart attack can happen to anyone

    Imagine yourself walking along a sidewalk and you find a person who is lying on the ground – what would you do?

    Once safety is ensured, the next thing to do is to check responsiveness. Tap the shoulders or shout at the person to see if he/she responds. While doing so, you should also do a breathing test by observing rise and fall of the chest or by checking if air is inhaled by nostrils.

    If the victim is unresponsive and doesn’t breathe normally, you should immediately shout for help. It would be wise to know emergency hotlines and have emergency contacts stored in your mobile phone. If there are other people in the neighborhood, you can request them to get help while you can stay with the victim.

    The guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) used to be in A-B-C convention, meaning airway-breathing-circulation. However, the sequence was revised in the 2010 according to American Heart Association guidelines, emphasizing compression first and then airway and breathing. This change in sequence removes the delay in doing early chest compressions, which is vital in improving the survival of the patient and encourages bystander to perform CPR as well.

    Cardiopulmonary resuscitation

    We sometimes see in movies how CPR is performed, so we have a basic picture of it. However, many of us would feel uncomfortable doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to anyone, especially to a stranger. Another reason why a person may not want to perform CPR is panic when facing a situation of someone with sudden cardiac arrest.

    There is a proper way, position and form in which one is able to perform effective chest compressions. Position yourself on one side of the patient’s chest. Place the heel of one palm at the center of the chest in the area between  nipples. Place the other hand on the top and intertwine your fingers. Kneel and make sure your arms are perpendicular to the victim’s body, with elbows locked and arms straight. Your arms should move as one unit.

    The recommended frequency of compression is 100 per minute with a depth of 2 inches (5 cm) for adults and 1.5 inches for children. Allowing a complete chest recoil during compressing chest is important to ensure the effectiveness of CPR.

    Compressing chest is far more important than mouth-to-mouth resuscitation because for the first several minutes after cardiac arrest the oxygen level in the blood remains still enough for the system. This fact also encourages bystanders to take the initiative to perform CPR in emergency situations.

    Let this dispel the notion that only paramedics or health care personnel can give basic life support. Anyone can help and do Basic Life Support as long as he is equipped with the knowledge of what should be done. We strongly recommend take part in one of many Basic Life Support courses where you can see how to perform it correctly and learn all the guidelines on your own. Practice is here necessary.

    Anna L.

    It’s all about health!
    I have academic background in drugs related Chemical Technology, as well as extensive professional experience in pharma and medical companies. My main area of interest is everyday life medicine. The goal of my articles is to give people informative answers to the questions that bother them, to dispel doubts and some common misbeliefs and also to inspire everyone to keep healthy lifestyle.

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