Minutes Matter With Heart Attack Victims

Six minutes is all you have to save someone's life, experts say

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FRIDAY, Jan. 30, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Six minutes is the maximum amount of time you have to save someone's life after they suffer cardiac arrest.

That means that it's extremely important to know and understand the threat of cardiac arrest, says a letter in the February issue of the Harvard Heart Letter.

Recognizing the signs of cardiac arrest may quicken response time and help save a life. A person who suffers a cardiac arrest faints or collapses suddenly, or stops breathing, or has no pulse, or may have twitching muscles.

The Harvard Heart Letter recommends you call 911 immediately if you suspect someone has suffered cardiac arrest. The next step is to administer CPR, which will keep blood flowing to the brain and the rest of the body.

It's also recommended that you ask a bystander to find out if there is a nearby automated external defibrillator, which can shock the heart back into a normal, steady rhythm. These devices are available in some public locations, such as airports, and some people have them in their homes.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about automated external defibrillators.

SOURCE: Harvard Health Publications, news release, January 2004

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