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Witnessed Arrest

Witnessed Arrest
Pronunciation: WIT-nesd a-REST

A witnessed arrest refers to a situation where an individual collapses and loses consciousness due to cardiac arrest, and the event is observed by another person or persons. The timeliness of intervention in such cases, especially when CPR is initiated immediately, can significantly improve survival rates.

What is Witnessed Arrest?

In a witnessed arrest, the victim’s collapse is seen by others, ensuring a quicker response and immediate medical attention. The prognosis is generally better in witnessed arrests due to the swift initiation of life-saving interventions, primarily if it occurs in a medical setting.

Key Facts About Witnessed Arrest:

  • The chance of survival decreases by about 10% with each passing minute without CPR.
  • Immediate bystander CPR can double or even triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.
  • AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) can be used to shock the heart back to a normal rhythm.

Witnessed Arrest | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of Witnessed Arrest?
When someone experiences a cardiac arrest, they may display:

  • Sudden loss of responsiveness.
  • No normal breathing.
  • No pulse or signs of life.

What causes Witnessed Arrest?
Cardiac arrest can be triggered by:

  • Ventricular fibrillation (V-fib).
  • Ventricular tachycardia (V-tach).
  • Severe electrolyte imbalances.
  • Respiratory failure leading to a decrease in oxygen levels.
  • Massive heart attacks.

Witnessed Arrest | Diagnosis & Treatments

How is Witnessed Arrest diagnosed?

A person in cardiac arrest will:

  • Be unresponsive.
  • Not be breathing or may gasp for breath.
  • Not have a pulse. Immediate assessment and intervention are crucial.

How is Witnessed Arrest treated?

Treatment should be immediate and can include:

  1. Bystander CPR: Keeping the blood flow active, even partially, can improve chances of survival and neurological outcomes.
  2. AED: Used for defibrillation to return the heart to its normal rhythm.
  3. Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS): Includes drugs, airway management, and possible pacing or further defibrillations.
  4. Post-resuscitation care: Once the person’s heart starts beating, they may need intensive medical care to stabilize them and address the cause of the cardiac arrest.


  1. American Heart Association. (2021). Cardiac Arrest. Retrieved from
  2. Resuscitation Council (UK). (2021). What to do in an emergency. Retrieved from