Time is life

It is important that everyone be aware of lifesaving techniques such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), says docs in the city
Representational Image
Representational Image

HYDERABAD:  Many lives can be saved if the right emergency aid is administered in time. Doctors have always said that the time between a cardiac arrest and hospitalisation is crucial and can change the patients’ fate. It is important that everyone be aware of life-saving techniques such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). 

Explaining the urgency and importance of this, Dr. Ravikanth, senior cardiologist, Kamineni Hospitals, shares some statistics: “The WHO estimates that 1.7 million people worldwide die of heart disease. One person dies every 90 seconds from cardiac arrest. It is alarming that heart disease deaths are higher than cancer deaths worldwide. According to the Indian government, 4,280 deaths per lakh people are due to sudden cardiac arrest. However, 30 per cent of these occur after hospitalisation and 70 per cent before hospitalisation. That is why experts suggest that everyone should be aware of CPR.”

Now, what’s CPR? Explaining it in simple terms, Dr. Nikhil Mathur, chief of medical services, Care Hospitals, says, “It is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating. Immediate CPR can double or triple the chances of survival after cardiac arrest.” Although there is generally enough oxygen in the blood to keep the brain and other organs alive for a few minutes, it does not circulate until CPR is performed, he says. He lists heart disease, trauma, respiratory illness and hanging (suicide) as some of the causes of cardiac arrest in adults.

“First aid is useful when the heart stops pumping oxygen and when the person is unable to breathe in oxygen. It is one such lifesaving process through which one can help a patient improve the chances of survival, following a cardiac arrest. This procedure can be done by anyone who is knowledgeable about first aid, before taking proper treatment or within the ambulance. People who have had a massive cardiac arrest are less likely to recover. However, people who have suffered a cardiac arrest are more likely to survive by having immediate CPR. That is why a person, who has had a heart attack, should have CPR done immediately. High-quality CPR is the cornerstone of a system of care that can optimise outcomes beyond return of spontaneous circulation,” says Dr. Ravikanth. 

Dr. MS Aditya, senior interventional cardiologist at Yashoda Hospital, Secunderabad, says if CPR is not given, the person may become brain-dead in three to four minutes owing to lack of oxygen. “While you wait for an ambulance, you may keep the brain and other organs alive by administering CPR. Even as a person administers CPR, another volunteer must work on calling for emergency medical help. Time management is crucial,” he emphasises. He adds, “Since not many know of this procedure, it’s high time that organisations invite medical practitioners to teach their employees and students the basics of CPR.” 

Dr. B Vijay Rao, faculty at the International Training Centre at Gandhi Medical College, Musheerabad, breaks down the procedure. “CPR begins by identifying who needs it -- anybody who collapses before you. Since as a layman you can’t tell why that has happened, administer CPR. First, call the local medical emergency number, then simply apply compression with a regular rhythm of 120 compressions per minute. Allow full recoil and do not lean on the person’s chest. Maintain the speed and rhythm by counting loudly.” Dr. Vijay cautions that CPR is no easy task and exhausts the rescuer. “But do not stop until the victim starts coughing, breathing, talking, moving or paramedics reach the scene. If you get tired, ask a bystander to do it under your supervision.”

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