Chain of Survival
The chain of survival was developed by the emergency medical community as a symbol of the major events that should occur in out-of-hospital emergency cardiac care. Cardiac arrest victims have a better chance of survival if these events occur rapidly. Early defibrillation is a major link in the chain.
Approximately 75% of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 75 have at least one major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. (Heart Disease and Stroke in Canada, 1997). By making healthy lifestyle choices, an individual's risk for heart disease and stroke and the chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke are reduced. Important elements to healthy living include injury prevention and healthy choices: being smoke-free, eating a healthy low fat diet, knowing your blood pressure, being physically active, and taking time to relax and enjoy life. Injury is a leading cause of death in children over one year of age. Learning how to prevent injury, how to reduce risk factors and incorporate healthy choices into our lives can improve health and well being for all age groups.
Not all heart disease and strokes can be prevented. The symptoms of heart attack and stroke must be recognized early, so that the proper help can be obtained. Common warning signs of heart attack include: mild or severe pain in the chest which may spread to the neck, jaw, shoulders, arms and back; shortness of breath; paleness, sweating or weakness; nausea, vomiting, and/or indigestion; fear, anxiety and denial. Symptoms vary from person to person. In women, the pain is often not as pronounced as in men. Common warning signs of stroke include: sudden loss of vision, particularly in one eye, or double vision; sudden weakness, numbness and/or tingling in the face, arm or leg; loss of speech or trouble understanding speech; sudden severe, unusual headaches; or dizziness, unsteadiness or sudden falls, especially with any of the above signs. Common delays to treatment include denial, lack of recognition of symptoms, and not knowing what action to take. Early intervention in heart attack and stroke can reduce the level of injury to the tissue that is involved - "Time is muscle. Time is brain."
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In an emergency, call 911. Early access into the EMS system will increase the victim's chance of survival. In Toronto our EMS system include paramedics, firefighters and police. Our emergency medical dispatchers will give you instructions on what to do until the ambulance arrives.
CPR must be started when the victim is not breathing and has no pulse. CPR provides oxygenated blood through the vital organs including the brain and heart. CPR will be continued until an AED arrives on scene.
Defibrillation is a shock that is delivered to the heart using an AED. This shock stops the heart from quivering and can restore the pumping of blood.
Early advanced life support
Toronto EMS paramedics provide early advanced care on site upon their arrival.
Early defibrillation can save someone's life! The sooner the victim's heart is defibrillated, the more likely he/she is to survive. The first three steps can be initiated by a targeted first responder.
Following a critical event, individuals and their families have new challenges to face. A second heart attack or stroke can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices. Returning to a productive life in the community may require help. The Heart and Stroke Foundation, for example, offers assistance through a variety of resources including programs such as Heart to Heart and Living with Stroke.
Become a link in the chain of survival
The Chain of Survival is only as strong as its weakest link. If any link is weak or missing, the chances of survival are lessened.