Signs and Symptoms of Cardiac Arrest

Know the Signs and Learn CPR Today

Every year nearly 400,000 people experience an out of hospital cardiac arrest and nearly 92% of those people do not survive. This staggering number underscores the importance of our community members understanding the signs and signals of cardiac arrest and knowing the proper procedures to potentially save a life.

It’s important to understand that if you see a person experiencing a heart attack, utilizing hands-only CPR (if administered within 2 minutes) and immediately calling EMS can reduce the risk of death by nearly half. As well, calling 911 will incur no costs if the situation is not life threatening—if there is any chance an individual may be experiencing a heart attack, call 911 without hesitation.

Common symptoms of cardiac arrest:

  • Chest discomfort (may come and go)
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn, or stomach pain
  • Pain that spreads to the arm
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Throat or jaw pain
  • Sweating
  • Irregular heartbeat

While these are common signs of cardiac arrest, it’s important to know that people may exhibit other symptoms or a combination of symptoms, and men and women may exhibit different symptoms. As well, cardiac arrest can come on with no symptoms at all. At this point, the victim may fall unconscious or stop breathing.

If you see someone exhibiting any of these symptoms call 911 immediately, if the individual is unconscious check for breathing. If he or she is not breathing, begin CPR without hesitation.

Administering CPR

CPR utilizes the “three-Cs” in helping you to easily and quickly remember the steps to assisting an individual who may be under cardiac arrest.

  • Check

Check the individual to see if they are conscious and breathing. If they are conscious and breathing, you will want to proceed to step 2. If they are not, you’ll want to proceed to step 2 and immediately begin step 3.

  • Call

If the individual is unconscious and/or not breathing normally (or at all), call 911 immediately. If there is another individual in the room or area, have them call 911 while you proceed quickly to step 3. If not, call 911 and proceed to step 3 as quickly as possible.

  • Compress.

Push hard and fast on the center of the chest (about 2-2.4” of compression is your goal) for a 30-count. You should be pushing a bit faster than one per second. You may also need to blow, if the person is not breathing. Tilt the head back, pinch the nose, and completely cover the mouth of the other person. Blow twice (the chest should rise and fall) and return to compression. Repeat these steps as necessary until emergency officials arrive. Each minute a non-beating heart goes without compressions the chance of survival diminishes by 10%. Make sure to continue compressions and if you become fatigued, ask another in the room to take over.

Knowing these steps can save a life in a life-threatening situation. While knowing the steps is vitally important, we also urge community members to take a CPR class to practice the techniques.