Save lives: the most important steps in cardiac arrest

Save lives: the most important steps in cardiac arrest

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These measures can save lives in the event of cardiac arrest

Cardiac arrest is a life-threatening situation in which every minute counts. First aiders can save lives, but many lack the necessary knowledge. Health experts explain the simple measures that can save many lives.

Some first aiders do nothing

According to the German Heart Foundation, of the approximately 70,000 people who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest in Germany every year, around 65,000 die because first-aiders, mostly medical lay people, do not resuscitate adequately or do nothing at all for fear of mistakes. In addition, there is a very low first aid rate of only 30 percent. "Unfortunately, too many lay first aiders do not dare to start with resuscitation measures because the rules are too complicated for them," complains the emergency physician and cardiologist Prof. Dr. med. Dietrich Andresen from the board of the German Heart Foundation in an older message. The experts from the Heart Foundation explain which measures can save many lives.

The chance of survival decreases from minute to minute

It can happen at any time: In the office, at home or during sports, someone suddenly collapses as a result of cardiac arrest.

As the German Heart Foundation explains on its website, the heart stops beating “from one second to the next” when the heart stops, perhaps it is still twitching, the so-called ventricular fibrillation.

Blood stops flowing and blood pressure drops to "zero". After about ten seconds, the person concerned loses consciousness.

Due to the lack of oxygen transport, the organs are subsequently damaged and increasingly destroyed in a few minutes. The brain is particularly affected.

According to the experts, the chance of survival decreases from minute to minute, unless resuscitation measures are carried out.

The most important steps for lay first aiders

"Since minutes determine life or death in an emergency, it is important that observers of such an emergency - mostly medical laypersons - intervene immediately and bridge the time until the rescue team arrives," wrote the German Heart Foundation in a press release.

The specialists have summarized the most important steps to be taken in the event of cardiac arrest so that first-aiders know exactly how to behave in an emergency:

If someone suddenly collapses without warning signs, first of all helpers have to alert emergency services 112.

Do not feel your pulse. Helpers should first make sure that the person concerned does not respond to shouts, shaking, slight pain stimuli (pinching) and does not breathe normally (snapping and wheezing are not considered normal breathing).

If this is the case, it is very likely that ventricular fibrillation has failed.

Immediately start a cardiac massage.

The helper places his hands on top of each other in the middle of the chest between the nipples and, with the help of his own weight, presses the breastbone five cm deep about 100 times per minute and then immediately releases the pressure again.

The breastbone must return to its original position. This is followed by the next cardiac massage. The cardiac massage must be continued until the emergency doctor arrives.

Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation should not be used if lay helpers are unable to master it safely.

According to the German Heart Foundation, scientific studies have shown that heart pressure massage by lay people without ventilation has proven itself.

If there are several helpers, they should alternate every two to three minutes. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Deutsche Herzstiftung: What to do in case of cardiac arrest ?, (accessed: 07/21/2019), Deutsche Herzstiftung
  • Deutsche Herzstiftung: First aid for heart attack and cardiac arrest: What should I do as a first aid to save lives ?, (accessed: 07/21/2019), Deutsche Herzstiftung
  • German Heart Foundation: Correct behavior in the event of a heart attack and cardiac arrest, (accessed: July 21, 2019), German Heart Foundation
  • Deutsche Herzstiftung: Resuscitation in the event of cardiac arrest: just press, do not ventilate (accessed: July 21, 2019), Deutsche Herzstiftung

Video: Cardiac Arrest- Cardiac Arrest in PALS 2019 (June 2022).


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