Fairbanks American Heart Association offers basics on the benefits of CPR

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 3:34 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - CPR can be a life saving tool, and the Fairbanks American Heart Association is offering the basics on the benefits of CPR.

According to Dr. Lee Pierson, a Cardiologist with the American Heart Association, if you encounter someone with cardiac arrest, the first thing you should do is attempt to wake them up or get a response. Dr. Pierson explained, “See if they respond - and if they’re not responding, the first thing you generally do is call 9-1-1 or send someone to go call 9-1-1 quickly. Then start pressing on the mid-chest hard and fast at a rate of about a hundred beats per minute. If you’re trained to do CPR, generally you would also be giving rescue breaths. We generally do 30 chest compressions to two rescue breaths. For folks that aren’t trained to do CPR, it has been shown to be effective just to do the chest compressions. The goal, really, is to circulate blood to the body, [and] try to get the heart to pump blood to the brain. So we use CPR to help the heart pump when it’s out of rhythm and not effectively pumping blood to the body.”

Dr. Pierson said CPR can be highly beneficial to help keep blood pumping throughout the body while you wait for emergency responders to arrive. “I think if started quickly, and the chest compressions are done at a good rate and effective chest compressions, I think CPR is very good at helping to preserve the brain and the body during cardiac arrest. Really, the critical thing is to start as quickly as you can.”

Along with chest compressions, Dr. Pierson said the use of a AED can be a highly effective addition to CPR. “If an automatic external defibrillator or AED is available, then that’s great to get right away and put on the patient. Usually you place the pads on the patient, turn it on, and then the AED will direct you further. It will tell you if it’s detecting an abnormal rhythm. An AED is used to shock a patient to try to help get their heart back into normal rhythm, so the AED is going to instruct you if it’s going to shock or if it wants you to do more chest compressions. So I think if that’s available, that’s something that you know is nearby, I think that’s good to get right away if you can.”

According to Dr. Pierson, many who need CPR may not receive it due to lack of a trained individual nearby. “With cardiac arrests in general, only half of patients, maybe a little bit less than half of patients who have a cardiac arrest will receive CPR. That’s unfortunate. I think a lot of people feel like maybe they don’t know how to do CPR, [or] they’re afraid to start. But honestly, even if you haven’t been trained in CPR, if you see a person who collapses and they’re not responding, then the real important thing is to start doing chest compressions and try to press right on the middle of the chest. Try to do it a hundred times a minute and keep going until help arrives.”

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