The basic steps when witnessing a cardiac arrest

Vygon Group
2 min readJun 14, 2019


Sudden cardiac arrest is the stopping of the heart due to a disruption of the heart’s electrical impulses, which results in inadequate oxygenated blood flow to the brain and vital organs. The victim hence loses consciousness and could die.

The leading cause of cardiac arrest is irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias) in adults, heart defect (congenital heart disease) and asphyxiation for children.

In Europe, more than 800 people suffer cardiac arrest every day.

To avoid death, care must be given within three minutes, before brain damage occurs. The chance of recovery decrease by 10% every minute. CPR can double or triple the chances of survival.

Anyone who witnesses a cardiac arrest should focus on the three key steps:

· Call for help

· Start chest compressions

· Defibrillation, if necessary

The guidance for chest compressions has been simplified in recent years. For many years, performing CPR meant checking the airway and doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in addition to chest compressions. Experts now advise chest compressions alone can keep the heart pumping and maintain blood flow for a few minutes until emergency specialists arrive.

Guidelines today do not promote ‘mouth-to-mouth’ procedure as it’s difficult to perform and chest compressions are essential to maintaining artificial circulation and stopping those would mean interrupting the victim’s circulation.

The optimum rate of compression is 100 to 120 beats per minute, pressing hard and fast in the centre of the chest.

How to perform chest compressions correctly?

Press down in the centre of the chest at a rate of approximately 100 times per minute. For finding the right rhythm one can think of the below songs:

• BeeGees — “Stayin’ alive”

• Justin Timberlake — “Rock your body”

• Hanson — “MMMBop”

• Jay Z and Beyoncé — “Crazy in love”

• Gloria Gaynor — “I will survive”

• Los Del Rio — “La macarena”

For children, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is still advisory since asphyxia is usually the cause of cardiac arrest in minors.

Automated external defibrillators are increasingly common in public places. One might be available during a cardiac arrest. As chest compressions should begin right away, it’s best to have two responders — one to do chest compressions and the other to set up and use the automated external defibrillator.



American Heart Association and EuReCa Two