When a person suddenly collapses, is not responding to touch or sound, cannot breathe normally and does not have a pulse, the person may be experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).
SCA happens when the heart stops pumping effectively. Dr. Janice Chyou, a local cardiologist who specializes in heart rhythm, explains: when the heart doesn’t pump, blood and oxygen stop traveling to the brain and organs. A person may appear to be distressed, turn blue, or faint. SCA may be related to a heart rhythm problem or may result from other causes that can stop the heart.
At this instance, family members, colleagues, and the public to must act fast to save the person:
- Call 911. If English is not your first language, request the operator to provide an interpreter for your language.
- Find or have someone get an automated external defibrillator (AED) if it is available. AEDs can detect an irregular heart rhythm and deliver a shock to reset the heart if appropriate.
- Perform traditional cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or Hands-Only CPR.
- Use an AED as soon as you have it. Turn it on and follow the prompts.
- Continue performing CPR until a medical team arrives.
In some reported cases, sudden chest pain or shortness of breath may also be warning signs of SCA. For those who live alone and experience those symptoms, get urgent care as soon as possible. Don’t wait it out.