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Cardiac Arrest: Recognizing Signs and Next Steps

Cardiac arrest is a life-threatening medical emergency that can strike suddenly and without warning, affecting people worldwide. It occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating, resulting in a complete cessation of blood flow to vital organs. Recognizing the signs of cardiac arrest and taking immediate action can make a significant difference between life and death.

In this blog post, we discuss the key symptoms to watch for, the critical steps to take, and the importance of having the emergency services readily accessible. We will also provide insights into global statistics to underscore the importance of timely medical intervention.
The Importance of Timely Medical Intervention:

Survival Rates Globally: Globally, the survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest are not significantly high. In many countries, survival rates hover around 10%. This highlights the universal challenge posed by cardiac arrest.

Universal Significance of Response Time: Regardless of location, the response time is a critical factor in cardiac arrest survival. For every minute that passes without defibrillation, the chances of survival decrease by about 10%, emphasizing the importance of rapid professional medical services.

Low Survival Rates in India: Cardiac arrest in India presents a significant challenge, with relatively low survival rates. Studies estimate that the survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in India is approximately 2-5%. This alarming statistic underscores the urgent need for immediate and effective intervention.
Given the challenges in India’s healthcare system, timely professional assistance from services like RED.Health is essential.

Rising Burden of Cardiac Diseases in India: India faces a growing burden of cardiac diseases, including cardiac arrest. Factors such as lifestyle changes, increased stress, and a higher prevalence of risk factors like obesity and diabetes contribute to the rising incidence of cardiac events.

With these global and India-specific statistics in mind, let’s proceed to discuss the signs of cardiac arrest and the steps to take when you encounter someone in this life-threatening situation.

Recognizing Cardiac Arrest

Unresponsiveness: The first and most apparent sign of cardiac arrest is the sudden loss of consciousness. The person affected will not respond to any form of stimulation, including verbal commands or gentle shaking.

Absence of Pulse: Check for a pulse immediately, typically at the carotid artery in the neck. If you can’t detect a pulse within 10 seconds, this is a strong indicator of cardiac arrest.

Gasping or Abnormal Breathing: Individuals experiencing cardiac arrest may gasp for air or exhibit irregular breathing patterns. These gasps are not normal breaths and should not be confused with regular breathing.

Skin Color Changes: Due to the lack of oxygen circulation, the person’s skin may become pale, mottled, or bluish in color.

Loss of Bladder or Bowel Control: In some cases, loss of control of bodily functions may occur as a response to cardiac arrest.

Next Steps in the Event of Cardiac Arrest.

Immediate action is critical when you suspect someone is experiencing cardiac arrest. Here’s what you need to do:

Call for Emergency Assistance: The first and most crucial step is to call emergency services immediately, regardless of your location. Clearly state your location and describe the situation, emphasizing that you suspect cardiac arrest. Given the universal challenge posed by cardiac arrest, timely professional help is essential.

Begin Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): If you are trained in CPR, start chest compressions and rescue breaths right away. High-quality CPR helps maintain blood flow to vital organs until professional medical assistance arrives. Aim for a compression rate of 100-120 compressions per minute, with a depth of at least 2 inches (5 cm).

Use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED): If an AED is nearby, use it as soon as possible. These devices are designed for use by bystanders and provide step-by-step instructions. AEDs can deliver an electric shock to the heart to restore its normal rhythm, a critical step in cardiac arrest cases.

Continue CPR Until Help Arrives: Keep performing CPR until emergency medical personnel arrive on the scene. Do not stop compressions unless the person shows signs of life, such as breathing or responsiveness.


Cardiac arrest is a global challenge that demands swift action and timely medical intervention, whether you’re in India or any other part of the world. Be vigilant for the signs: unresponsiveness, the absence of a pulse, abnormal breathing, and skin color changes. If you ever find yourself in this situation, remember to call emergency services immediately.

The statistics are clear: timely medical intervention can make a profound difference in cardiac arrest outcomes. Your quick thinking and access to emergency services can make all the difference in someone’s life, increasing the chances of a positive outcome. Let’s work together to improve cardiac arrest survival rates both globally and in India

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