Published On: Fri, Jun 9th, 2017

Technological changes in Life Support procedures

A casual glance at the history of medicine will reveal the truth- medicine has come a long way. It has journeyed through the microscope and thermometer, to electrotherapy machines and X-ray machines and marched ahead with MRIs and ECGs.

There was a time when a stopped heart meant that the person could not be saved. Today, we have methods to revive the person and to ensure that the heart continues to tick away for many, many years to come. Devices and machines can give the patient a new lease on life. Ambulances and helicopters ferry doctors, organs, patients and medicines and also help in this process.  

Life Support Procedures

Life support means the methods and treatments resorted to in an emergency to help support life after one or more vital organs fail. In the case of cardiac arrest, a simple CPR can sometimes triple the chances of the patient surviving the episode. The BLS, ACLS, and PALS algorithms and guidelines are especially useful in this regard. From what the heart and respiratory rate and blood pressure needs to be to rules of basic treatment, the handbook simplifies this life-saving technique to a large extent.

When it comes to life support procedures, machines are useful in many ways. They are mostly of three kinds:

  • Pacemaker– to rectify irregular heartbeats or abnormality of blood vessels ( first developed in the 1800s)
  • Ventilator- to help a patient when he/she cannot breathe on his/her own( first used in the 1930s)
  • Dialysis Machines- to help in the case of kidney failure( first mentioned in 1913)

When a patient has a condition that can be treated or cured, life support helps by maintaining equilibrium till the body can function in a normal way. Having life support takes the pressure of the system aiding it and helping it heal better.

innovation sign

photo/ Michael Jarmoluk via pixabay.com

There are different methods to offer life support and of them, two are most commonly used:

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation

CPR is a potentially life-saving method that tries to restart a failing heart and enable it to function better. Along with medication, electric shock is also administered while performing this method. It’s a myth to believe that only senior citizens or those with prior heart conditions may be in need of CPR. It may be required in the case of an infant in distress or for a child who is struggling. The PALS algorithms and guidelines explain the process and its nuances in a simple point by point method, making it easier to follow.

Artificial Nutrition and hydration

A body fighting to get better also needs to be supported by proper diet and nutrition. Sometimes, the patient may be unable to do this without help. Then, a tube is placed directly into the stomach and carries a balanced blend of all the patient’s food and drink needs.

Thus, technology has helped in the extension of life and quality of living. It is rather wonderful that while CPR now has better drug and process management, the actual method more or less remains the same, and still saves lives. Old is gold, they say and they are correct.

Author: Pankaj Deb

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