Clinical Death and First Aid in Case of It

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Clinical Death and First Aid in Case of It
First Aid in Case of Clinical Death

Sudden death is a cessation of an organism’s life-support functions (breathing, circulation and consciousness), which is also called clinical death. After 5-6 minutes of clinical death the body cells experience irreversible changes – this is the start of biological death. Clinical death is a potentially reversible process, while biological death is not. Therefore these few minutes are the only chance to save a patient, who is in a state of sudden death.  

It goes without saying that not everyone with clinical death can be saved. It depends on the condition that has caused sudden death. Resuscitation from clinical death consists of several stages: initial resuscitation, special resuscitation (this is usually done by a health care provider) and further treatment in an intensive care unit.  

Initial resuscitation is an operation that every person should know. Every person might happen to be in an extreme situation, when each minute is precious and no medical attendance is available.

How to Recognize Clinical Death?

The diagnosis of clinical death is based on evidence that essential life-support functions are absent: breathing, heart activity and consciousness. If consciousness is interrupted, and both breathing and heart activity are present, coma is suspected. Whatever the cause of sudden death is, initial resuscitation is done according to the same algorithm (on the other hand, if death was caused by, for example, obvious bleeding from major blood vessels, bleeding should be stopped at first). Importantly, initial resuscitation also includes Heimlich method, which is used in cases of choking.  

Algorithm of initial resuscitation:

  1. Safety of yourself and surrounding people comes first. This means that you have to mark the location of the accident using special signs, move away from fire, harmful substances or natural disasters and etc.
  2. Evaluate consciousness of the victim. If the victim is unconscious, ambulance should be called. If the resuscitator is alone and there is no one around, resuscitations should be started at first and ambulance should be called after one minute of resuscitation.
  3. The victim is laid down on his/her back. Airways should be opened: recline the head maximally, lift the lower jaw up. If you suspect neck injury, do not recline the head, just lift the jaw up.
  4. Check if the victim is breathing (after lifting the lower jaw up, the airway is open). If the victim is not breathing, start artificial respiration mouth to mouth or mouth to nose (make two breaths).
  5. To carry out artificial respiration, you have to mouth up the victim’s mouth (the nose should be covered) or mouth up his/her nose (the mouth should be covered), do not do it too fast or too slow, watch if the chest elevates. If the chest elevates, you have done the breaths correctly. If you have done everything correctly, but the chest does not elevate, there may be a foreign body in the airways. The victim might have choked. In this case Heimlich movement would be useful.
  6. Check the pulse. If the pulse is absent, start chest compressions. The point of the compressions is the lower third of the breastbone. The palms of the resuscitator are put one on another with raised fingers; the elbows must be completely straight. 15 compressions and two breaths are done. This cycle is repeated until the patient recovers, the heart work and breathing return (from this moment the patient is put on his/her side) or until the ambulance arrives. If there is a threat to the resuscitator’s life or if the evidence of biological death appears (livores mortis, rigor mortis, coolness) the resuscitation should be terminated.

 Sometimes resuscitation may take more than an hour, but if it is effective, even after this much time there is a possibility that the patient will survive (of course, it depends on the cause of clinical death) and recover.


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