AHA Issues New Guidelines for Saving Children in Cardiac Arrest

The American Heart Association has issued new guidelines for emergency services that are trying to save a child who is in cardiac arrest. The new scientific statement from the AHA claims that a different approach needs to be taken for children that have heart disease versus a child with a healthy heart.

New findings suggest that a child that goes into cardiac arrest is 10 times more likely to have a heart defect or other heart conditions.

Cardiac arrest in children can be caused by surgical complications or catheter procedures. Statistics show that nearly 16,000 children in the US go into cardiac arrest outside of the hospital annually. An additional 5,800 children suffer cardiac arrest in the hospital annually.

The statement suggests that the ACLS certification and teachings may need to be revamped for children. Resuscitation and CPR techniques for children with healthy hearts may not be enough to restart the heart of a child with heart disease, according to the statement.

“The plumbing within children who have congenital heart disease is often entirely different,” claims Dr. Robert A. Berg. Blood flow to the child’s lungs and rest of the body may be limited due to congenital heart disease he claims.

The statement suggests that emergency services, doctors and nurses need to have a better understanding of the physiological differences in children that have cardiovascular and heart disease to better offer life-saving procedures when cardiac arrest occurs. The implications of differences in physiology and anatomy may also impact the effectiveness of the CPR procedures administered to children.

Additional, advanced life support procedures are mentioned for infants and children that have heart disease and will include additional CPR guidelines. CPR procedures for children and infants remain the same: compression and rescue breaths.

Survival rates of children that have gone into cardiac arrest in the hospital have tripled in the last decade from 14% to 43% thanks to improvements in CPR procedures.

The statement suggests that the AHA is working on version 1.0 for resuscitating children who have cardiac disease. Officials are now waiting on researchers to determine the appropriate treatments and strategies for working on children with cardiac disease. The statement claims that when version 3.0 of the documentation is released, it’s expected that the outcome for children with heart disease will improve.

In an additional AHA statement, the organization says that sufferers of sudden cardiac arrest may exhibit warning signs hours to weeks ahead of cardiac arrest. A new study claims that 54% of cardiac arrest in sports-related cases had at least one symptom four weeks before the incident in 71% of cases.

Research also shows 30% of athletes experienced a decline in their performance, fainting, chest pain or shortness in breath prior to sudden cardiac arrest. Studies also show that 50% of middle-aged sufferers also showed symptoms four weeks prior to the event.

The AHA claims being able to recognize these symptoms may lead to life-saving medical treatment. Raising awareness of the symptoms can help the hundreds of thousands of people that die in the U.S. annually due to sudden cardiac arrest. About 90% of the 356,000 cardiac arrests that occur outside of the hospital per year are fatal.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.