Introduction

Advanced life support is an essential link in the Chain of Survival. The universal algorithm provides a sequence of actions for the management of all people who appear in cardiac arrest - unconscious, unresponsive, without signs of life. Cardiac arrest may present as a shockable rhythm, such as ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia (VF/VT), or a non-shockable rhythm such as asystole or pulseless electrical activity (PEA). Attempts at defibrillation will be necessary in cases of VF/VT. Other actions, including chest compressions, airway management and ventilation, venous access, drug administration and correction of possible causes, are common to both these rhythms. The algorithm is applicable universally but cardiac arrest may occur in special circumstances, for example hypothermia, drug overdose and electrical injury. Additional interventions may be necessary, as discussed in Chapter 13.

The universal algorithm was based on collaborative research from resuscitation experts around the world. All information in this chapter is drawn from the references noted at the end.

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