Warning Signs and Emergency Treatment of Cardiac Arrest

Updated:Mar 10,2017

Ambulance With Flashing Lights Cardiac arrest strikes immediately and without warning.

Here are the signs:

  • Sudden loss of responsiveness (no response to tapping on shoulders).
    • No response to tapping on shoulders.
    • Does nothing when you ask if he's OK.
  • No normal breathing
    • Victim is not breathing or is only gasping.

If you suspect someone is suffering from cardiac arrest:

  • Tap and shout
    • Check if the person responds. Tap him and shout, “Are you OK?” If he doesn’t move, speak, blink, or otherwise react, then he is not responding.
  • Yell for help
    • Tell someone to call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number and get an AED (if one is available). 
    • If you are alone with an adult who has these signs of cardiac arrest, call 9-1-1 and get an AED (if one is available). 
  • Check breathing:
    • If the person isn't breathing or is only gasping, give CPR.
  • Give CPR: Push hard and fast
    • Push down at least 2 inches at a rate of 100 to 120 pushes a minute in the center of the chest, allowing the chest to come back up to its normal position after each push.
  • Use an AED as soon as it arrives by turning it on and following the prompt.
  • Keep pushing until the person starts to breathe or move or someone with more advanced training takes over.

Learn more:

  • Learn why the American Heart Association does not endorse "cough CPR," a coughing procedure widely publicized on the Internet.

This content was last reviewed March 2017.

 Cardiac Arrest


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