Cardiac arrest in children is not quite as rare as people think, but the statistics are still quite low when compared to the number of adults experiencing the condition each year. Pediatric cardiac arrest has a very different process compared to cardiac arrest in adults. This is why medical management of pediatric patients merits it’s own course separate from medical management of adult cases.
PALS training course
We have a Pediatric Advanced Life Support course available in all six of our training locations. The PALS program is under Advanced Life Support, taking two days to complete. It runs for a total of 14 hours long, spread out over several sessions each day. The program’s curriculum involves the same ALS outline as adult CPR, but focuses on skills tailored for pediatric victims.
*The term pediatric refers to patients younger than 18 years old. However, the PALS program focuses on infants, toddlers, and very young children.
A PALS certificate is only valid for two years. Before it expires, we require trainees to sign up for a renewal class. During the case that the credential expires, the full training course has to be taken again. Re-certification classes are very short, lasting 6 to 8 hours for PALS. The difference in times account for optional stations that the student can choose not to take.
Heart attacks and cardiac arrest
Heat attack is an event that is separate from the term cardiac arrest. A person gets a heart attack when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly cut off. This can be due to an obstruction – either a gradual build up of plaque or a sudden deposit of an embolus (thrombus) – or constriction of the coronary arteries. When the heart stops beating, that is called cardiac arrest.
CPR is the management done in and out of the hospital to help a person in cardiac arrest. It is made up of three core techniques: compressions, ventilation, and defibrillation.
Shock is a dangerous complication of cardiac arrest, especially for children. There are different kinds of shock, but all of them are characterized by inadequate blood flow and oxygen delivery to meet the cellular demand. Cardiac arrest – a condition when the heart stops beating – causes a type of shock called cardiogenic shock. This kind of shock happens when the heart isn’t beating adequate to supply the body with needed oxygenate blood.
Alternately, when a child goes into cardiogenic shock due to heart failure, the first reaction is too speed up the heart rate (tachycardia). However, tachycardia does not last long and eventually progresses to cardiac arrest. Vasoconstriction is another compensatory mechanism, which aims to maintain perfusion pressure and cardiac output by narrowing the blood vessels that lead to the head.
As these mechanisms start to fail, in the event of cardiac arrest, you can expect:
- Decreased urine output
- Metabolic acidosis
- Deterioration in color