Adults in the UK believe there is a 50/50 chance of surviving a cardiac arrest – but in reality, nine in ten of those which happen away from a hospital result in death. A survey of 2,000 adults found 28 percent believe a cardiac arrest is the same as a heart attack.
However, a cardiac arrest is the ultimate medical emergency, when the heart stops beating, and the individual is clinically dead.
But less than a quarter of those polled believe a cardiac arrest is more urgent than a heart attack.
During a heart attack, the heart normally continues to beat, but blood supply to the organ is disrupted.
However, only 30 percent of adults surveyed realised that a person is clinically dead at the point of arrest.
Almost half of those polled (49 percent) also believe cardiac arrest survivors have the same rehabilitation services and psychological support as those who have suffered a stroke, heart attack, or been diagnosed with cancer.
But there is currently no formal care plan for cardiac arrest survivors consistently applied across the UK.
According to experts, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces a person’s chance of survival by up to 10 percent.
Symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest are immediate and severe, such as a sudden collapse – which includes unconsciousness, no pulse, and no breathing.
I thought nurses don’t have cardiac arrests – I would have had a warning
Charlotte Pickwick, cardiac arrest survivor
James Cant, CEO at Resuscitation Council UK, which commissioned the research, said: “Currently, we are failing people who survive a cardiac arrest.
“There is no personalised care plan for rehabilitation for these patients – they are often sent home with severe neurological, physical, and emotional difficulties, missing out on the vital services they need to help them to recover.
“Everyone affected by cardiac arrest has a right to recovery and rehabilitation, which is a key element of improving quality of life post-event.”
Worryingly, while 23 percent said they sometimes experience chest pains, more than half of those (59 percent) have not spoken to a medical professional.
It also emerged 37 percent of adults wouldn’t feel very confident helping someone in a state of cardiac arrest, while 24 percent would not feel at all confident.
Just 15 percent think only trained medical professionals are allowed to use a defibrillator, and only 11 percent would have total confidence they could correctly use a defibrillator themselves, according to the OnePoll.com figures.
James Cant added: “As little as 29 percent of out of hospital cardiac arrest survivors are assessed for neurological rehabilitation in their post-cardiac arrest care, and psychological reviews are only offered to 20 percent of survivors.
“Our aim is to increase bystander CPR and defibrillation awareness to increase survival rates, but the services must be there to support those who survive.”
One survivor whose life was turned upside-down by the medical emergency was Charlotte Pickwick, 46, who suffered a cardiac arrest on Boxing Day in 2017.
After working as an NHS nurse manager for 23 years, and being involved in numerous situations from a treatment side, she was suddenly the patient.
At 2:20am, Charlotte let out a gasp, which woke her husband, Stuart. As he turned the light on, Charlotte was letting out occasional groans, had pin-pricked eyes, and was going blue.
Stuart dialled 999, and pulled Charlotte onto the floor, where he started eight minutes of CPR until the paramedics arrived to continue saving her life.
Charlotte said: “I was told that once I arrived at hospital, I arrested a further three times.
“I remember waking up in ITU, the following day, asking where I was. My parents were there and told me I had had a cardiac arrest.
“I remember shouting at them, and asking who did CPR on me. I thought nurses don’t have cardiac arrests – I would have had a warning.”
And Benjamin Culff, from Stoke, was just 17 when he went to start his morning shift at a restaurant on August 13, 2017.
He wasn’t expecting to wake up in hospital – and were it not for the quick thinking of his work colleagues, he might not have woken up at all.
From 2010 to 2017, Benjamin had suffered a series of unexplained fits, but was unaware what was causing them.
One day at work, in Tamworth, Staffordshire, he went to collect some glasses – and that is the last thing he remembers that night.
Benjamin had collapsed, and was found unconscious by his colleagues, by which time it became very clear he had suffered a cardiac arrest.
Thankfully, his colleague was able to start performing CPR, although he had not had any formal training, and a defibrillator was brought over from the restaurant reception.
Together, following the instructions of the defibrillator machine, Benjamin’s colleagues administered two shocks to his body, and luckily the second shock brought him back to life just as the paramedics were arriving.
Benjamin said: “Since my cardiac arrest, I have been offered recovery support from Royal Stoke Hospital, including revisiting where I had stayed during my time in the hospital.
“Luckily, I made a good recovery so declined the support. However, my family still have enduring worries, and for a period of time, my mother would prod me whilst I slept, to check I was still breathing.”
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