external heart massage


External heart massage is used in an attempt to maintain circulation when cardiac arrest has occurred. If you cannot feel a pulse or heartbeat in an unconscious and nonbreathing cat, you may try external cardiac compression.

Heart arrest automatically follows respiratory arrest; when heart arrest occurs first, breathing soon stops. Therefore, cardiac massage must be combined with artificial respiration if any benefit is to be gained.

Irreversible damage to the brain is believed to occur after three minutes without oxygen. This implies that heart compression must be started within three to five minutes following cardiac arrest to be of benefit. Place the cat on his or her side on a firm surface. Place your hands on the side of the chest over the heart and compress the chest firmly. Then completely release the pressure. Don’t be rough, but don’t worry too much about damage to the chest: getting effective circulation going is more important, and it has been shown that chest compression, not actual heart compression, is probably most important in maintaining blood circulation.

The compression/release cycle should be repeated 120 times per minute.


external-heart-massage-300x135 external heart massage

You can also achieve effective cardiac massage by applying pressure on the heart area with one hand on each side of the chest wall or with the fingers of a single hand wrapped around the chest. If your actions are effective, you should be able to feel a pulse with each massage. If you are unassisted, try to intersperse an artificial respiration for every ten cardiac compressions. Otherwise have your assistant give a respiration at the same time as every other heart compression, since simultaneous chest compression and lung inflation have been shown to provide the best circulatory results.

While attempts to restart the heart are being made, try to get the animal to a veterinarian. Don’t expect the animal to revive during your attempts at resuscitation before obtaining veterinary services. If consciousness resumes, however, keep the cat warm and quiet and proceed to a veterinary hospital where observation can continue.