Dr. Sciammarella graduated from American University of the Caribbean in June, 1985. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, and the American Board of Emergency Medicine and has practiced Emergency Medicine for 25 years.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Ventricular fibrillation can be treated, but it requires applying an electrical shock to the chest called defibrillation.
If a defibrillator is not readily available, brain death will occur in less than 10 minutes.
One way of buying time until a
defibrillator (AED) becomes available is to provide artificial breathing and circulation by
performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.
The earlier you give CPR to a person in cardiopulmonary arrest (no breathing, no heartbeat), the greater the chance of a successful resuscitation.
By performing CPR, the affected individual receives oxygenated blood flowing to the heart and brain until a defibrillator becomes available.
CPR is one link in what the American Heart Association calls the "chain of
survival." The chain of survival is a series of actions that, when performed in sequence, will give a person having a heart attack the greatest chance of survival.
The first link in the chain of survival is immediate recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency response system by calling 911 (check your community plan, some communities require dialing a different number).
The next link in the chain of survival is to perform CPR until a defibrillator becomes available.
The next link in the chain of survival is to perform early CPR, with an emphasis on chest compressions until a defibrillator becomes available.
Following early CPR, the next link is to provide rapid defibrillation.
may be available for use by the lay public or first person on the scene.
Once the EMS unit arrives, the next link in the chain of survival is
advanced life support care. This involves administering medications, using
special breathing devices, and providing additional defibrillation shocks if
NOTE: This reference is only intended to serve as a guideline for learning about CPR.
It is not intended to be a replacement for a formal CPR course. If you are interested in taking a CPR course contact the American Heart Association at (800) AHA-USA1, or the American Red Cross by phoning your local chapter. Never practice CPR on another person, because bodily damage can occur.
The American Heart Association (AHA) has taken steps to simplify
the process of helping victims of cardiac arrest by introducing "hands-only"
CPR. Since only about 1/3 of people who suffer a cardiac arrest at home or at a
public place actually receive help, bystanders could be afraid to initiate CPR
for fear that they'll do something wrong or won't know what to do. Others may be
reluctant to perform mouth-to-mouth breathing for fear of contracting an
In short, the procedure for "hands-only" CPR is simple. An untrained
bystander who sees an adult suddenly collapse (after verifying that the person
is unresponsive and is not breathing) should do just two things:...