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Health With Omega - April/May 24

Should We All Learn To Save A Life By CPR?

Cardio Pulmonary Resucitation (CPR) is literally a life saver. Our hearts have an electrical circuit all of their own and a biological pacemaker to keep them beating regularly. It is so sophisticated that it increases our heart rate to pump more blood to our muscles when we run for a bus or exercise. But just like other body functions it can go wrong. Sometimes it goes wrong in a small way with extra heartbeats or irregular timings. Sometimes it goes catastrophically wrong, often due to a heart attack when blood stops getting to the heart muscle. A common heart rhythm in these circumstances is ‘Fibrillation’. The heart’s natural pacemaker fails to coordinate the muscle fibres into a unified contraction, so the heart muscle is alive but just quivering and not pumping blood round the body. Not pumping blood means the person collapses, stops breathing and will die unless either CPR or de-fibrillation with an electrical current can capture the muscle fibres to fire at the same time again. 

So should we all learn CPR? The answer is a big “yes”, we should all be able to come to the assistance of another person with a sudden cardiac arrest. There are short, friendly courses that teach how to do CPR and how to use specially designed Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) that talk you through the whole procedure. 

Community buildings, business premises, sports clubs and pubs often have an AED. To be able to find one when time is of the essence AEDs are registered with The Circuit, The National Defibrillator Network that brings together all the locations of working AEDs so the ambulance service can tell people on the scene how to find one quickly.

Undertaking CPR is strenuous, as to pump blood the chest must be compressed to at least 6cms but it is well worth it if the collapsed person is fit and their life is saved. About 1 in 10 out of hospital CPR attempts are successful because trained bystanders act fast.

In hospital CPR may be more successful if offered to the right patient, e.g. after a heart attack or a sudden illness in a previously well person. It is not worth the physical trauma if a patient is too poorly to benefit from the attempt.

Many people have a discussion with medical staff about their treatment options and preferences. These preferences are recorded on a Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment (ReSPECT) form. At the end is advice on whether medical staff think CPR is advisable for you. Many people fear that if CPR is not advisable, they will be ‘left to die’ without proper care. However, the advice is only that CPR is inadvisable, all other appropriate and helpful medical interventions are still offered when you need them, but the added risk of trauma or brain damage from CPR will be avoided. This will apply to someone ill with a deteriorating chronic illness, when all treatments have already been tried, to ensure a peaceful passage to death for the patient, family and loved ones.

Have you thought about what you would choose in such a situation? The Omega Course is designed to help people think ahead on these topics. Find out more at or call 07999 739381.

Learn CPR to save a life in 15 minutes online with The British Heart Foundation. If school kids can do it, so can you! Find out more at

Local CPR training with an AED is led by – 07836 283652.

Dr Chantal Meystre
Mobile: 07999 739381