What is CPR and when is it not beneficial ?
This doesn’t make for happy reading but it’s better to know so you can make informed decisions regarding a loved one’s care.
CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. Cardiopulmonary arrest means that the heart has stopped beating and breathing stops. Sometimes
Sometimes, it is possible to restart the heart when emergency CPR is performed. CPR is not however used on everyone whose heart has stopped. The healthcare team WILL attempt it if there has been a serious injury or heart attack.
If the person’s heart has stopped as a natural and expected part of the dying process then there may be little or no benefit in reviving them each time their heart and subsequently breathing stop. This is especially the case if the person has other illnesses that are naturally going to shorten life. In such cases doing so may cause significant pain and prolong the suffering of a terminal illness.
What does CPR involve ?
- Electric shocks to correct the heart rhythm – look out for defibrillators in town centres and hospital wards.
- Hard compression on the heart muscle via the chest, often breaking ribs and puncturing lung tissue.
- “Mouth to mouth” resuscitation.
- Artificial inflation of the lungs using a mask or tube inserted into the windpipe.
Each person is different. A few patients make a full recovery, many don’t due to other medical conditions and how soon after the heart attack they are treated. Often those who are resuscitated are still very ill and require intensive care or coronary care admission. Some people sadly go into a coma or suffer brain damage.