A new kind of CPR machine is helping emergency workers save more lives. It automatically provides just the right pressure.
The Boyd family has a spot in their yard where 48-year-old Calvin Boyd nearly lost his life.
Calvin says, "I remember when my boys came home from school and that's it. I can't remember nothing else."
He suffered cardiac arrest. His heart stopped beating. While his son called 911, his wife Karla, who knew CPR, tried to revive him.
She says, "Doing CPR by yourself, it's very hard work. And you're not for sure if you're doing it right at the time."
New technology was ultimately used to save Calvin's life. It's called auto-pulse and it does CPR better than humans can.
The battery-powered machine calibrates the right compression based on the patient's size then applies even pressure all around the chest, not just over the heart.
Emergency Medical Technician Michael Kiefer says, "It doesn't stop until we tell it to stop. We can be sitting still and it's doing perfect compressions. We could be driving in the ambulance, turning corners and it's still doing perfect compressions, without any problems."
Like an extra pair of hands, it frees the paramedics for other vital tasks at the scene, while it maintains normal blood flow to the heart and brain.
EMT Chris Jennings says, "Before, when you brought somebody down four stories, you had to stop CPR every time you went down stairs because you couldn’t do it. With this, you can put it on them, you can carry them down stairs as you continue doing CPR, so you never have that stop in CPR."
Calvin only remembers walking out of the hospital six days later feeling fine, but his family won't forget.
Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of unexpected death in the world because most people can't get help fast enough. Current U.S. survival rates are only about five-percent.
Fast Facts:Approximately 225,000 Americans die each year from sudden cardiac arrest. It affects twice as many men as women.
When the heart stops beating, a patient will die within four to six minutes unless treatment is started.
CPR can be used to provide some oxygen to the brain and vital organs until the patient can be revived however, CPR isn’t always done correctly and sometimes a rescuer can tire, rendering CPR less effective.
A new device, called the autopulse™, automatically delivers the right depth and rate of chest compressions. The autopulse frees the hands of rescuers to attend to other life-saving treatments and provide continuous CPR, even while moving the patient.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. It usually is preceded by an electrical problem in the heart’s conduction system that causes the heart muscle to beat too fast (ventricular tachycardia) or in a chaotic fashion (ventricular fibrillation). Eventually, the heart is unable to function and stops working. If normal heart rhythm isn’t resumed, the person will quickly die (sudden cardiac death). In some cases, sudden cardiac arrest can be caused by an abnormally slow heart beat (bradycardia).
The National Center for Early Defibrillation estimates 225,000 Americans die each year from sudden cardiac arrest. It occurs twice as often in men. Many victims are in their 30s and 40s.
The most common reason for sudden cardiac arrest is underlying heart disease. However, many patients may not have any signs of heart disease and aren’t diagnosed with the condition. Sudden cardiac arrest can also occur in people with a history of heart rhythm problems, as well as those who have experienced respiratory arrest (stopped breathing), drowning, electrocution, choking and trauma.
Once the heart stops beating, it must be restarted with an electrical shock (defibrillation). If the heart beat is not restored, brain death occurs in about 4 to 6 minutes.
When a person collapses from sudden cardiac arrest, bystanders need to immediately call 9-1-1 to access emergency intervention. If possible, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) should be started. CPR involves manual compressions of the chest and rescue breathing to force a small amount of oxygenated blood from the heart to the body. The treatment should be continued until emergency personnel arrive to take over. Hopefully, CPR will provide enough oxygen to the brain and vital organs until rescue personnel are able to provide defibrillation.
CPR Limits/The AutoPulse™
In an ideal situation, CPR would help save the lives of many of those who experience sudden cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, that’s not often the case. Research shows 85 percent or more of patients experiencing SCA die. Several factors contribute to the problem. Bystanders may not activate the EMS system in time or may not know how to perform CPR. Even when CPR is initiated, the compressions may not be done correctly. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found most chest compressions are too shallow to provide maximum blood flow to the body. Even those who are well trained in CPR may eventually tire and deliver less effective chest compressions after several minutes of CPR.
A new device is aiding rescue workers in their ability to provide CPR. It’s called the AutoPulse™. The main device is placed over the chest and held in place with a chest band. The rescue worker pushes the “start” button and the autopulse automatically begins delivering chest compressions. Autopulse provides a consistent depth and rate of compression. The device frees the hands of rescue workers and allows them to focus on other aspects of patient care (like ventilation or administration of medication). Rescue workers say the autopulse can continue to deliver chest compression during times when manual compression isn’t possible (like moving a patient down a flight of stairs) or may be unsafe to perform (in a moving ambulance). An animal study found the autopulse provided better blood flow to the brain than manual CPR.
Recently, two studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at the use of autopulse for patients receiving emergency intervention after an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. One study found improved survival for patients who received automated CPR versus those who received manual CPR. However, the second study found patients who received the autopulse had worse neurological outcomes and poorer survival rates compared to manual CPR patients.
For information about the autopulse™ device:
For information on sudden cardiac arrest:American Heart Association Web site
Heart Rhythm Society Web site
National Center for Early Defibrillation Web site