Medical technique: How to save a life? CPR!

Tabba Heart Institute hopes to train people once a month and spread the word.

Express June 18, 2011
Medical technique: How to save a life? CPR!


It was just another morning at the Khan household where 45-year-old Farah collapsed in the middle of a conversation with her mother-in-law. The confused mother-in-law rushed Farah to hospital wondering what had happened, as she had no medical history of heart-related problems, blood pressure or diabetes. The emergency staff refused, however, to admit her and instead referred them to a specialised heart centre. Farah did not survive long enough to receive medical care and was declared dead on arrival.

It would be incorrect to suggest that Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) could have saved Farah’s life. Nonetheless, doctors strongly believe that for people in a similar situation, CPR gives them a fighting chance. Thus, the Tabba Heart Institute (THI) held a community seminar to train 20 people on how to administer CPR. But much more public awareness needs to be spread on basic life support and the ability to perform CPR. During the four-hour session the participants were trained in CPR for infants and adults and the THI hopes to hold similar sessions at least once a month. THI consultant cardiologist Dr Kaleemullah Shaikh explained the procedure in six easy steps.

How to administer CPR in adults

Step 1: Check for unresponsiveness. This involves tapping the person or shrugging their shoulders to check for movement. If there is no physical movement, try to get a verbal response from them. E.g. “Are you OK?”

Step 2: Call for help. If there is another person in the room ask them to call for medical help or assistance.

Step 3: Check for a pulse. This can be done by taking the index and middle finger and placing them at the centre of the neck, right under the person’s chin. Once positioned on the neck, slide your finger either to the right or left to place it under the jaw. A beating sensation will let you know if there is a pulse.

Step 4: Administer CPR. Take your dominant hand and interlock it with your other hand on top. Place the heel of your hand where the rib cage ends. Use the heel of your hand to pump the compressions. The chest must be compressed to about two inches while ensuring that too much pressure is not exerted and damages the rib rage. Doctors say 30 compressions in less than 18 seconds should be administered. It is important to keep note of whether the person’s chest is expanding during compressions and keep a count of administering about 100 compressions per minute.

Step 5: Check airway. Tilt the person’s head backward and lift their chin. This helps align their airway. After the first 18 compressions have been administered two ‘rescue breaths’ should be exhaled into the person, a second or two apart. If there is still no response start the procedure again.

Step 6: If after two minutes the person has not revived check their pulse again and re-evaluate whether or not to administer CPR again.

According to Shaikh, there are three reasons to stop administering CPR. First, if the patient has revived, second when hospital personnel arrive and third when the person administering CPR is exhausted. He went on to explain, “With every minute that goes by you lose a 10 per cent chance of reviving a person.” Therefore in about 10 minutes you probably lose all possibility of successfully resuscitating a person from cardiac arrest. However, there are exceptional cases such as those people suffering from hypothermia where CPR can continue for hours.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2011.


Mirza | 12 years ago | Reply I am an eye witness of CPR in action and actually working. About 25 years ago my wife and I were fast asleep on a Saturday night in our apartment and awakened by lot of noises outside. We heard and understood that a middle-aged man went out of the building to get something from his car. He did not come back and after a while a woman went out to look for him. She screamed “he is down on the ground and is not breathing”. She administered the CPR right then and there and after a day I saw the man was walking! Most citizens in the US are trained in CPR and AED and the equipment are in almost every place of work. These are life saving techniques and actually work if used by trained people promptly, which is the key. My uncle was in the USA on a business seminar in NY City. On the last day of the month long seminar he had a massive heart attack in the class. Being in the heart of the city, the ambulance came in quickly and according to the information that I learned afterwards, his heart had stopped and they really had to struggle hard to revive him. He was saved and after such a massive heart attack, he lived for another 15 plus years. The only thing he remembered is having the symptoms of heart attack and somebody calling for ambulance and then he went blank. He remembered somebody trying to wake him with electric shocks and he yelled at them to stop that. I can keep going with these kinds of incidents but you got the point. Last but not the least, a close doctor friend of mine from Punjab told me (he was student there about 20 years ago) that after he came to the US, he realized that they were not using CPR and when use that the technique was wrong. Now with the more common use of Internet I am sure, medical staff can rectify and update their methods. What is an AED? The automated external defibrillator (AED) is a computerized medical device. An AED can check a person’s heart rhythm. It can recognize a rhythm that requires a shock. And it can advise the rescuer when a shock is needed. The AED uses voice prompts, lights and text messages to tell the rescuer the steps to take. Thanks and regards, Mirza, USA
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