Seizures and Cardiac Arrest

Resuscitation Council guidelines state that “The victim who is unresponsive and not breathing normally is in cardiac arrest and requires CPR. Bystanders and emergency medical dispatchers should be suspicious of cardiac arrest in any patient presenting with seizures and should carefully assess whether the victim is breathing normally.”

What this means is that where someone is unresponsive and not breathing you would normally treat as a cardiac arrest and perform CPR.

If you come across someone who you think is having a seizure, you should always suspect that they may be in cardiac arrest and you must ensure they are breathing. The patient in a seizure may stop breathing for a short while but this should start again after 10 to 15 seconds. In some cases, they may stop breathing for up to a minute.

It is very important to be suspicious of cardiac arrest in any seizure case, monitor their breathing continuously until they recover.


  • Trudy says:

    Can I check please. During CPR are breaths no longer recommended, just heart massage? Thanks

    • keith.sleightholm says:

      The recommendation is still full CPR and breaths but you can if unwilling or unable to, just do compressions.