Advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) is a detailed medical protocol for the provision of lifesaving cardiac care in settings ranging from the pre-hospital environment to the hospital setting.
ACLS is the appropriate medical response to cardiac arrest and is continued until the person is revived or is declared dead by a competent medical authority. The standards for ACLS in the United States are administered by the American Heart Association.
ACLS consists of the provision of advanced cardiac drugs, defibrillation and intubation or RSI. For witnessed or monitored arrests, ACLS also includes a single precordial thump.
Paramedics, doctors, or specially trained nurses may provide ACLS before arrival in hospital, in the emergency room, or elsewhere in a hospital. Doctors trained in emergency medicine or a cardiology can provide additional cardiac drugs and possible surgical intervention including internal cardiac massage and drainage of pneumothoraces and cardiac tamponade.
CPR provided by laypersons buys time for higher medical responders such as paramedics to arrive and begin providing ACLS. For this reason it is essential that any person starting CPR also activate the emergency medical services by calling for help using the emergency telephone number.
Semi-automatic defibrillation, oxygen, and airway support may be provided by emergency medical technicians. This is considered basic life support or BLS. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is one of the skills provided as part of BLS.
See also basic life support
- American Heart Association http://www.americanheart.org/
- UK Resuscitation Council http://www.resus.org.uk/
- European Resuscitation Council http://www.erc.edu includes the European 2000 guidelines
Last updated: 02-19-2005 16:15:53