Cardiac Arrest and lack of oxygen: My granda had... - Headway


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Cardiac Arrest and lack of oxygen

Mser94 profile image

My granda had cardiac arrest 10 days ago and received cpr from people around. Around 5 mins later the paramedics arrived, CPRed and shocked him twice for between 5 to 10 mins.

He has been off sedation for 2/3 days and they are saying he hasn't come round and that he is brain damaged and that we need to start making decisions.

Have people had similar experiences?

He is not on any heart support and breathing mainly on his own. I think they have made rash decisions, but that's what the consultants keep saying. I don't know what to think!

26 Replies

I am so sorry that this has happened. I can strongly recommend the Headway helpline on 0808 800 2244. They will be able to offer you the very best information and support. I wish you and your family all the best. 🌸

Mser94 profile image
Mser94 in reply to Marnie22

Thank you, I think I will call them for advice xx

Yes telephone headway like Marnie22 suggested to gain guidance what to do, or info what should be next stage, or even questions to ask.

Mser94 profile image
Mser94 in reply to New_beginning

Thank you I definitely will in the morning x

Please please dont get pressured into making quick decisions... he may well come round still or maybe he won't but you need more time ... I went through this with my husband 5.5 years ago and the doctors started talking about turning off life support etc... because he had serious hypoxic brain injury and might be in a vegetative state etc... sure I was scared about that because I did not ever want that for him... but I stood my ground - insisted on a second opinion and so on (I am in NZ and dont know what the rules are in your country....) but fast forward 6 months including rehab and a lot of battles te finding etc and he was able to come home -he can toilet and shower himself and he talks well and we go for meals and on holidays... he cant read or write or solve practical probjems but we enjoy our lives. I wish you all the strength and resolve you need. It won't be easy and every individual is different when it comes to brain injury but all the best x

Mser94 profile image
Mser94 in reply to Gela64

Thank you so much. It's so difficult when you don't know anything about these situations. Totally lost.

Mser94 profile image
Mser94 in reply to Gela64

Was your husband ventilated and how long for? Do you know if he had any erratic/abnormal breathing patterns?

Sorry for 20 questions, trying to form a picture in my mind of where we are xx

Gela64 profile image
Gela64 in reply to Mser94

Hi - of course you have lots of questions! Yes he was ventilated first with a tube down his throat and then after he had finally come out of sedation he had a tracheotomy tube for about another week - so all up for about 3 weeks at least. I recollect his breathing was erratic - that's why they kept the trach tube in. Feel free to ask whatever! We all struggle with this unfamiliar stuff x

Mser94 profile image
Mser94 in reply to Gela64

Thank you for being so understanding. Do you remember how long it took him to start to be responsive on command? Xx

Gela64 profile image
Gela64 in reply to Mser94

It was about 3 weeks from memory...

Mser94 profile image
Mser94 in reply to Gela64

Oh right, sorry I miss read your reply. I've heard a lot of similar timings that's why I think 4 days off sedation is such early days xx

Gela64 profile image
Gela64 in reply to Mser94


I think those doctors want sacking

They are not following the sworn hypocrates oath

Ask what tests they have done to determine this

Too many doctors have no bedside manner

I’m appalled that they would even consider telling you this at such an early stage

Mser94 profile image
Mser94 in reply to philbou

They basically said he's not responded on command. That his CT showed normal, but the EEG they did on day 4 showed brain damage from lack of oxygen.

We managed to get a 5 minute video call last week and he kept opening his mouth, yawned and coughed. But that was 1/2 days off sedation.

The nurse said he opened his eyes yesterday. Apparently they have done another EEG yesterday and will get back to us.

It's about your grandad Mser and if you're being pressured to make a decision on his behalf after only 10 days I suggest your decision should be "WAIT !" I know hospitals are under pressure right now but you need to dig your heels in and insist it's far too soon to even think about withdrawing treatment.

My family members were warned to expect the worst but also encouraged to hope for the best. And some folk here have waited many weeks for signs of progress from loved ones before being rewarded with positives. We're all aware of the strain on health services but, whatever his fate, your grandad deserves a fairer shot at survival than this.

Sincere best wishes for positive signs soon. Cat x

Mser94 profile image
Mser94 in reply to cat3

Thanks Cat, I totally believe this too! Xx

When we spoke to the hospital today, they let us bring in his mp3 player with his favourite music on and I put recordings of our voices on there for him to listen to, in the hope that it helps him respond in some way.

Although the consultant said it wouldn't help, but we can try.

We are waiting on more EEG results to come back.

I have also called Headway today and spoken to a lovely HATS nurse called Alex, who reassured me that I wasn't going crazy and that they usually say 4 weeks post sedation will usually tell you the general outcome of the situation. Which is a lot better than 4 days or even 1 week.

We will continue to talk to Alex as she was so helpful. She said to also ask for a neurologist to come see him. X

cat3 profile image
cat3 in reply to Mser94

So he hasn't been seen by a neurologist and they're already giving a prognosis.... 😦 wise words from Alex.

Any communication containing familiar sounds, voices etc. can be reassuring and (in my experience) an invitation to engage, safely, with consciousness. You're doing the common-sense stuff m'love which has proved so helpful for so many.

It's so hard for loved ones without physical contact and I really feel for you, but keep doing what you're doing Mser and I hope you'll be rewarded with happier times ahead. Stay in touch ....x

Mser94 profile image
Mser94 in reply to cat3

Thank you so much for your kind words.

I wish we were in different times where it wasn't so busy and where we could spend our days by his side. Xx

Your doing all the right things Mser94, your Grandad is very lucky to have a lovely family, seeking advice and doing what you can with restrictions best to your ability in uncertain times. X

Mser94 profile image
Mser94 in reply to New_beginning

Thank you, he's our world and we are a very close family. We want to be able to give him a chance, but we cant help having the feeling that the ICU is so stretched that they feel they have done what they can. When we feel it's time that he needs x

Shreds profile image
Shreds in reply to Mser94

Time heals and you must not be pressurised.

Last year at a (non medical) committee meeting we were informed that a member of the committee was in hospital and the family had been asked to consider ‘switching the life support off’.

I was the only person who spoke up to express my view that they should not do so.

I recognised it was not my decision and the family would make their own decision and probably never hear mine.

A few weeks later I called on an architect who had visited him in hospital previously to ask if they had indeed made a decision.

He advised he had not been allowed to go again due to Covid, but had rung the patients wife at home for a progress report or what decsion they had made, and amazingly the patient picked up the phone at home and said hello!

So never say never!


Praying for you and your grandpa.

Mser94 profile image
Mser94 in reply to Shreds

Thank you so much, we are definitely going to say it's too soon. There's nothing much they can do at the moment, as it's waiting for a response.

I just get the feeling they don't want to. :( I believe it's because they are so so busy and they said he's elderly, but he's 66 and not overweight and healthy.

We will speak to the consultant again tomorrow.

I've just responded to your other post then found this. As I mentioned in my other response, I work in coronary care which looks after people with problems with their coronary arteries (the arteries supplying blood to the heart). What your grandad suffered is what we call an 'out of hospital cardiac arrest' and hypoxic brain injuries are much more common in these types of arrests. I work with patients like your grandad every day so please feel free to ask me questions. 66 is not elderly, in fact the nurses in my team would say 'oh he's quite young'. When making a prognosis the doctors will look at the age of a person, their past medical history, any co-morbidites and what is physically wrong with them now and how likely it is that this will improve. If you are concerned about the decisions a doctor is making, please ask them to explain why they've come to this decision and raise your concerns, doctors can be wrong and you need that opportunity to raise what's going on in your head. I'd also like to say, no decision is ever made alone, the junior doctors ask the registrar who asks a consultant and there may be different doctors working different shifts so decisions are usually team efforts. However, it gets tricky when a patient doesn't have capacity to make their own decisions. Unless there is some advanced decision on treatment in place, or the person (your grandad) has a lasting power of attorney for health then decisions are made in the best interest of the patient (your grandad). Hope this helps. I hope for the best possible outcome for your grandad, you are in my thoughts.


Hi Eve, Thank you so much for both of your replies. Both are extremely helpful.

I asked about the ventilator timing as when we spoke to the consultant yesterday he said that the longer he's on the more complications there will be, which I understand but he's been on for 12 days at the mo, apparently it's not on a lot of support and he does have a tracheotomy in.

My Granda doesn't have much other history regarding his lungs and his heart, but we have been told that he does have coronary heart disease and they have put a stent in one of his arteries.

We believe that he cant have been without oxygen for too long as CPR was started soon and paramedics arrived within 5 minutes and took over.

He moves his face, but doesnt respond yet. The nurse said his blood pressure shot up a bit when they played his music to him initially so they had to take him off it for a while. Not sure if this means he can hear or not?

Melissa x


I have the utmost compassion for your situation, I see it every day with my patients and their relatives and there's always an element of disbelief when processing an event like this. I hear it often 'but she was really healthy, walked for miles' etc. Sometimes people are just unlucky but often it's a combination of lifestyle, genetics or mismanaged symptoms that leads to these events.

It sounds like there's a few things going on with your grandad that would ultimately paint a difficult journey for him. I dont want to advise on your grandads situation directly because I haven't seen his notes or cared for him directly and it's just not responsible to offer medical advice. In my ward we aim to deliver shocks within 3 minutes, in the community it can be any length of time but it sounds like the first responders were really quick which is good.

Your other post mentioned he was awaiting EEG results so he mustve already had input from the neuro team. Hospitals are under pressure yes but I like to think that the care that is needed is delivered, I often wonder at ITU staff because they're honestly some of the most well trained staff in the NHS or around the world. The brain is a wondrous thing, it's so fragile but can do miracles. Please keep us updated on your situation


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