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One of the most important things that rescuers need to consider before administering CPR and AED is if the patient is carrying heart medications at the time of the heart problem or stroke. This is because the priority of rescuers is to administer these medications before proceeding with CPR and other life-saving techniques. Here are some of the guidelines when it comes to administering these medications before proceeding with CPR and AED.

Do not prescribe medications

Medication for Allergic Reactions

Medication for Allergic Reactions

Morphine is considered by many healthcare professionals as the most effective drug of choice for heart problems or stroke since it can lower blood pressure, reduce the need for oxygen and lessen chest pains. However, it is also notorious for causing hypotension in which the blood pressure drops to a critical level which can lead to death especially if it is taken with nitroglycerin or if nitroglycerin is taken thirty minutes before morphine is given. This is why it is not recommended for rescuers to prescribe and administer morphine even if it is already at hand unless a physician gives the green light and the blood pressure of the patient can be monitored consistently. Otherwise, rescuers should exhaust all non-pharmacological ways to help the patient without administering this medication. It should not be given to patients who have taken Plavix as well.

Look for nitroglycerin

If the patient is wearing a nitroglycerin necklace or tag but the container is empty, rescuers should try to obtain nitroglycerin from other sources such as bystanders who have the medication at hand. Nitroglycerin usually comes in a tablet form which should be given sublingually. This means that the patient should be instructed to keep the medication under his or her tongue until it is fully dissolved. It is important for rescuers to ensure that the medication is taken properly since a heart emergency or problem can make the patient less coherent which would make him or her more susceptible to taking the medicine the wrong way. If a nitroglycerin patch is already on the skin, rescuers should peel it off and clean the area properly before using an AED.

Check for aspirin allergy

Aside from nitroglycerin, aspirin is another medication that rescuers can give to patients who are suffering from a heart attack. For faster absorption, rescuers should instruct the patient to chew the tablets before swallowing. However, rescuers should first ask the patients or the guardians if the patient is allergic to aspirin since allergic reactions to aspirin is normally fatal.

Even though it has been proven that administering CPR and AED on patients who are suffering from a stroke or other heart complications can save lives, there are still a lot of people who think that these techniques are not necessary. This is why learning about the death rate of cardiovascular diseases is important in order to learn why life-saving techniques should be administered immediately. Here are some of the studies that illustrate the real gravity of cardiovascular diseases.

How high is the death or mortality rate of cardiovascular diseases?

Chest Pain - symmptom of cardiovascular diseases

Chest Pain – symmptom of cardiovascular diseases

According to the data that was released by Statistics Canada for 2011, one person dies from cardiovascular diseases every seven minutes, making stroke and other cardiovascular diseases the most common causes of death in the country. in 2008, cardiovascular diseases claimed the lives of more than 69, 000 Canadians. 58% of these cases were caused by Ischemic Heart Disease which is more commonly referred to as Coronary Artery Disease while 28% of these cases were caused by heart attack. These studies show that even though the fatality rate of cardiovascular diseases differ, they collectively claim the lives of thousands of Canadians each year. It also shows that anyone who has a heart disease is at risk even if the disease is not as fatal or as common as the other types.

What is the mortality rate for hospitalized patients?

For many, administering CPR and AED is unnecessary especially if an ambulance is on its way since hospitalization prevents death. What they do not realize is that a lot of patients who are hospitalized can still die from cardiovascular diseases. According to the statistics that was released by the Canadian Heart Failure Network, nine out of 100 patients who are hospitalized and are more than 65 years of age die because of heart problems and complications. This is why administering CPR and other first aid techniques is still crucial even for patients who are about to be sent to the hospital.

What is the role of CPR and AED?

Even though CPR and AED administration or usage is only part of the entire treatment process for people who are suffering from a heart attack or complication, it is still very important since it can set the pace for the rest of the treatment process. Depending on the success or outcome of these interventions, doctors and other healthcare professionals can decide on the next step. Administering these interventions minutes or seconds after an attack can also prevent permanent debilitating medical conditions which are caused by the lack of oxygen circulation in the body.

An essential part of CPR and AED basics is knowing the types of defibrillators and how they are different from each other. This ensures that first aid rescuers are well-aware of the differences among the type of defibrillator that they are allowed to use and the ones that should only be manipulated or adjusted by a healthcare professional. Here are the different types of defibrillators that exist on the market today.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICD)

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators are equipments that monitor a person’s heart rate 24 hours a day. It is implanted inside the patient’s chest through an open surgery where it shall remain inactive until it detects a heart rate pattern that is indicative of a heart attack. Once it detects the presence of a heart attack, these defibrillators automatically administers a jolt of electricity. These defibrillators are designed for individuals who are suffering from arrhythmias and are only prescribed for those who have life-threatening diseases or conditions since by principle, inserting a foreign material inside the human body has a lot of risks and limitations.

AED Trainer placed on CPR training mannequin

AED Trainer placed on CPR training mannequin


During emergency situations in which the patient is still suffering from a cardiac arrest despite the presence of this implant, it is still the rescuer’s duty to perform chest compressions alone. However, determining the reason why the implant has failed to prevent the cardiac arrest or attack or assessing the implant is not a part of the rescuer’s duties.

Wearable Defibrillator

Designed to be a more affordable version of an ICD, a wearable defibrillator is a fairly new technology which allows patients who are not suitable candidates for an ICD implant because of certain blood-related medical conditions or the presence of an impending heart operation. Several studies are still being conducted to test its efficiency and so far, the results are promising. According to a study that was conducted by the professionals at the American College of Cardiology Foundation, this type of defibrillator is an excellent tool for patients who are at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.

Automatic External Defibrillators (AED)

AED’s are designed for rescuers and other individuals who have little to no medical background since it is the easiest to use among the three and is more affordable. In most offices and workplace environment, having a working AED is a requirement especially those that are in high-risk industries. This is why taking CPR AED classes is important for rescuers aside from knowing how to administer proper chest compressions.

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