Resuscitating someone who has undergone cardiac or respiratory arrest is a difficult decision, but is also one of the most common end-of-life decisions that must be made by individuals and their family members. One of the reasons this decision is so difficult revolves around the lack of information most people have about cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Understanding Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a term that refers to a number of techniques designed to utilize artificial breathing and intubation, chest compression, electrical or mechanical stimulation, or medication to aid or restore regular cardiovascular function.
Intubation, also known as “endotracheal incubation”, is a procedure where a tube is inserted through the patient’s mouth or nose and down the trachea, more commonly referred to as the windpipe, to help maintain an open airway and assist in breathing. This class of procedures can completely replace some of the normal functions of a person’s heart or lungs, or stimulate them until they begin working normally once again.
When Does a Patient Receive CPR?
CPR is generally used when a person fails to breath (respiratory arrest) and the heart is unable to beat (cardiac arrest). Cardiac arrest results in the entire body failing to function. Breathing stops, blood stops flowing through the person’s body, and the brain is unable to receive oxygen.
Respiratory arrest occurs when a person is unable to breath but their heart may still be able to function normally. Neurological diseases, choking and lung diseases are examples of cases where respiratory arrest may occur. Respiratory arrest requires immediate treatment or it will lead to cardiac arrest.
When Would Someone Refuse CPR?
There is a correlation between how quickly CPR is administered and how successful it is. The patient’s underlying medical condition must be factored in also. Every situation is unique and the patient’s wishes must be taken into consideration.