2022-09-14 07:51:11

Have you ever wondered whether cardiopulmonary resuscitation can be performed on a pregnant woman and automated external defibrillator 

Dr. Hoang Van Cuong | Trainer at First Aid, First Safe Project
Have you ever wondered whether cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be performed on a pregnant woman and automated external defibrillator (AED) can be used, in case of a cardiac arrest? Does the AED’s electric shock cause any harm to the fetus? Should you
have any questions about effects that AEDs and CPR can have on pregnant woman, this article will help.

1. Facts about cardiac arrest among pregnant women
According to a research by cardiologist Farida M. Jeejeebhoy, lecturer at University of Toronto, one in 12,000 pregnant women brought to the hospital for giving birht would have cardiac arrest on average. The number might be higher because it does not inlude
cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
According to Ms. Farida also, cardiac arrest and other cardiovascular factors have caused more deaths among pregnant women for the recent decades. The reason for the phenomenon is that pregnant women are facing a greater risk of cardiovascular issues during their pregnancy due to old age, diabetes, high blood pressure, high level of cholesterol, etc. Besides, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes are also threatening pregnant women’s health.
Also in this research, the author points out that 6 out of 10 pregnant women having cardiac arrest survive. However, that number is for cases happening in hospitals only. Currently, there has not been an exact number for cases that happen out of hospitals (out-
of-hospital cardiac arrest). Due to the reasons mentioned, first aid for pregnant women should be paid more attention to, especially the one for cardiovascular problems, such as cardiac arrest.

2. Can AEDs be used for pregnant women?
There are many actions that can be done if you meet a pregnant woman that is having cardiac arrest. Here are some notices you need to take:
- Immediately call 115 or any emergency numbers you know.
- Provide the switchboard operator with information about: the exact location of the case, the number of victims (if more than one), emphasizing that the victim(s) is pregnant (this helps the switchboard operator know what specific equipments must be brought to the scene).
After that, perform CPR on the victim right away (if you know how to do it right). Technique applied (posture, frequency...) is the same with the one for women with no pregnancy. The minimum frequency is 100 times of compression per minute and the complete cycle is 30 times compression combined with 2 times of artificial respiration. If there is an AED available, ask people around to get it for you while you are performing CPR for the victim. There has not been any research that proves AEDs can badly affect victim’s heart rate or cause any harms to the fetus as well as the mother. AEDs are completely safe for pregnant women. In addition, since the pregnant woman is at risk, saving the mother means saving the fetus. If the woman wakes up, lay her on her left to increase blood going to her heart and to the fetus.

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