We all have heard of CPR, but most of us have never been interested to know what this is, how it is done or even when it should be done. CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary resuscitation; which means restoration of the heart and lung functions. Sadly, in the age we are living in, the number of people who go into cardiac arrest out of hospital is on the rise and this means the public needs to know exactly what to do in such an instance because, the worst thing you can do is nothing.


Cardiac arrest

Cardiac arrest or heart attack? What is the difference? The distinction is, one can cause the other. Heart attack happens when blood flow to a certain part of the heart is blocked, this can cause an arrhythmia, triggering an electric disturbance resulting in cardiac arrest. This means among many other reasons a heart attack is one of the possible reasons for cardiac arrest.

So what is cardiac arrest? It is the abrupt loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness resulting from an electric disturbance in one’s heart that disrupts blood pumping. This means the brain will not be receiving oxygen and this where the risks come in.

Lack of oxygen in the brain can result in mild or even severe cerebral hypoxia. In the case of mild cerebral hypoxia one might suffer from mild memory loss, problem with motor function (movement), inattentiveness and poor judgement. If the victim stays in this state for up to five minutes they get into severe cerebral hypoxia which can result in a coma, seizure or even brain death. When one is brain dead, their pupils are not responsive to light and even though their hearts work, they are unable to breath on their own making them dependent on life support. If nothing is done completely, the victim eventually dies. Knowledge of this simple procedure can save one’s quality and quantity of life.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

The first step is to know when to administer CPR. The symptoms range from: sudden collapse, lack of pulse, no breathing and lack of consciousness. Immediately you recognize these symptoms most likely someone has gone into cardiac arrest and its time to start the procedure, the sooner you start the higher their chances of survival. These are the steps:

·   Get someone to contact emergency services because CPR is done for sustenance until help arrives.

·        ·     Asses victim’s responsiveness by shaking them hard enough, if they were deep asleep they would wake up.


  • Ensure the victim is lying on a firm, flat surface before starting the chest compressions. The compressions should be done with both hands positioned on the victim’s breastbone which is at the center of the chest. Perform up to 30 chest compressions at the rate of about 18 seconds. For adults the compression depth should be at least 2 inches and about 2 inches for children. Infants are fragile so you should use two fingers and the compression depth should be about 1.5 inches. The procedure should have minimal interruptions.

















  After every 30 chest compressions the next step is 2 mouth to mouth breaths. First tilt the chin upwards to clear the airway, create a tight seal with your mouth then give 2 breaths each lasting a second. Watch for chest rise before starting the procedure all over again. Repeat the procedure in the same ratio of 30 compressions : 2 breaths until the victim starts breathing and regains consciousness. Because of panic you can forget the procedure, to avoid that, memorize the acronym CAB meaning:

 ·         C – Compressions (30 compressions on the victim’s chest hard and fast)

               ·         A – Airway ( tilt the chin up to open airway)

               ·         B – Breathing (Give 2 rescue breaths)

Learn this simple procedure and save a life.

Kenya Medical Directory healthcareinkenya.com