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In order to deliver effective CPR, we also have to understand a little bit about the heart and what happens when the heart goes into cardiac arrest, and how the actual compressions will make a difference.

The heart’s natural pacemaker is called the Sinoatrial Node. This sends out regular electrical impulses from the top chamber or Atrium causing it to contract and pump blood into the bottom chamber or Ventricle. The electrical impulse is then conducted to the ventricles through the AV node. The heart is doing this all of the time.

In cardiac arrest this is interrupted either due to electrolytes, potassium has maybe interfered with it or in many cases it is a cardiac problem such as a heart attack.
The electrical pathways are interfered with and the electrics spark, in response the two chambers at the top of the heart and the two chambers at the bottom of the heart start wriggling in the chest in response to the rhythm they go into, this is known as ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia.

The only thing that will sort them out is defibrillation and that is why AEDs and defibrillation are so vital.
While locating or waiting for the AED effective CPR is what is going to keep them going, until the defibrillator is available.

When performing chest compressions you should be pushing down 5-6cm at 100 - 120 beats per minute, making sure that your hands are in the centre of the chest and you’re really pressing down. Keep your arms and back straight and use your own body weight. Keep the depth and the rate going, when you start to tire, tell somebody to take over, the guidelines from the Resuscitation Council Uk say that you should change to another rescuer every two minutes for CPR to remain effective.

The release is as important as the press down in compressions, don't lean on the chest between compressions.

The AED works by passing electricity across the heart, momentarily stunning it, allowing the heart’s own pacemaker to sort itself out.
Sometimes cardiac arrest is due to a lack of oxygen, in these cases the defibrillator or AED will say no shock advised or no need to shock. In these cases monitor the patient and provide good effective chest compressions until the emergency services arrive.

Anyone can perform CPR, the most important thing is to get the right rate and depth.