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Diving into BLS and ACLS; basics & dissimilarities

Diving into BLS and ACLS; Basics and Dissimilarities

While pondering about combating life-threatening scenarios, one might think about the preliminary steps that must be taken in emergency situations. Such special steps are necessary for preserving life and health when organs and systems start failing. These steps or procedures are known as Life Support. These life support procedures include Basic Life Support (BLS), Paediatric Life Support (PLS), and Advance Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) etc. We will mainly be discussing BLS and ACLS here. Throughout the text, you will learn the basic functions of both life systems, the relevant knowledge required to perform them, the techniques involved, the providers of the respective life support and some of the major difference between BLS and ACLS.

Basic Life Support (BLS):

Basic Life Support refers to the type of immediate medical care provided to the patients in emergency situations. It includes performing single rescuer and team based Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), checking breathing patterns, relief from choking, performing Automated External Defibrillation (AED) and calling the relevant emergency service providers. It is often referred to as “professional level CPR” and helps sustain a patient until high professional help arrives. It helps maintaining circulation, airway, and breathing of the affected person. BLS helps people of all ages and getting proper training and certification of BLS can help you and people around you in the battle of life and death. While facing emergency situations first and foremost analyse the environment and then check for the responsiveness of the victim, feel the victims pulse and if his/her pulse does not respond in 10 seconds, perform a CPR.

Along with the physical skills requires for BLS, one must also possess the skill of critical thinking in situations of panic. BLS provides the basic lifesaving skills which are necessary for even laymen. Imagine being in a situation where there is an utmost need of BLS but no one around is aware of the techniques. Hence, it is crucial lifesaving skill, and everyone should be equipped with BLS as one might be able to save someone on time.

Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS):

Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) builds on the foundations of Basic Life Support (BLS). What does ACLS actually include? Well, ACLS involves a group of immediate procedures and techniques provided to patients in critical, life threatening situations such as shock, stroke, trauma, and cardiac arrest. ACLS is arranged into a set of guidelines known as algorithms that provide speedy and effective ACLS results. ACLS helps stabilize the patient’s condition and restore his/her regular vital signs. It is mainly performed in Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Operating Room (OR), and Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) or in other general medical units under the supervision of a doctor. Following are some of the types of ACLS treatments;

Airway Stabilisation:

When the patient faces airway obstruction, it is necessary for the healthcare providers to immediately provide airway stabilisation. It includes inserting a tube into the windpipe to regulate breathing of the patient and ensures a clear pathway for air transfer to the patient’s lungs.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR):

CPR is performed as a part of ACLC in case the patient’s breathing or heartrate stops. It involves pushing down on the chest to regulate oxygen flow in the body and to help the heart and lungs to start performing on their own.


It follows the use of low energy electric shocks in order to promote normal heartrate.

Intravenous Medications (IV):

IV medications support the human body in averting several life threatening conditions and help restore the blood pressure and normal vital signs.

Now you must be wondering who can provide ACLS? To answer that we must know that ACLS can be provided by trained healthcare providers including cardiac surgeons, thoracic surgeons, cardiologists, critical care medicine doctor, and emergency medicine and trauma specialists. ACLS saves lives and help in detection of underlying critical conditions. It also helps in diagnosis of underlying diseases after which the patient can be provided a treatment plan.

Differences between BLS and ACLS:

Now that we have discussed the basics of both the techniques, we have a clearer picture of how to evaluate both the techniques. Both Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advance Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) share the same objective that is providing immediate lifesaving care in case of emergencies mainly the ones involving cardiac arrests. While having the same motive, they both differ in several ways.

Fundamental Differences:

The primary distinction between BLS and ACLS is that BLS is a supporting technique that addresses injuries and conditions in their initial stages. Physicians employ ACLS, a complimentary medical procedure, to tackle serious clinical issues, strokes, and other fatal crises. BLS is an initial therapy that supports individuals up until the full course of therapy is administered.

BLS is a supportive treatment that aids victims in recovering while undergoing the full course of care. The BLS procedure is beneficial as a first aid procedure. The nursing staff will offer this medical assistance so that the patients can be treated right away.

Contrarily, ACLS is a medical care procedure that offers patients the whole course of therapy. The facility’s team doctors offer ACLS, or advanced cardiac life support. Advanced Cardiac Life Support is what the word ACLS refers to.

Physicians offer ACLS therapy for heart problems, stoke, and other life-threatening conditions. Emergency patients will be taken good care of by the ACLS medical system. The physicians will manage this therapy, and the nursing staff will not be allowed to do it. The term “ACLS” refers to a group of medical techniques for handling urgent patients in the field of cardiovascular care. Management for serious heart arrest, strokes, cardiac events, and other serious traumas is provided via ACLS medical care. Urgent instances involving the heart are treated with ACLS.

Level of Advancement:

The first distinction between ACLS and BLS is the level of advancement. BLS is less advanced and less sophisticated as compared to ACLS. For a person to be an ACLS provider, they have to master the BLS course first since it forms the basis of further life support courses. A significant part of ACLS training will involve leaning the techniques used in BLS like CPR. One can also say that, to climb the ladder of ACLS, it is necessary to first conquer the step called BLS.

Background of Knowledge:

Both programs benefit from having some prior clinical skills, although BLS does not absolutely necessitate it. Contrarily, ACLS necessitates at least a foundational understanding of medicine that will enable you to comprehend the core curriculum and pass the exam. Before starting their ACLS training, members frequently take a BLS Qualifications, and ACLS Certification courses sometimes involve a reviewing of the BLS course content. For instance, a significant portion of every ACLS test involves comprehending fundamental electrocardiograms. Despite the fact that you will spend some time covering them in the program, it’s crucial that you go into the test already knowing the basics of electrocardiography and understanding how to interpret them.

Administering Medicines:

BLS and ACLS also differ in regards to administering medications. BLS does not involve learning about the pharmaceutical side of emergency health care but rather focuses on fundamental methods to restore the bodily functions. ACLS on the other hand involves a step in the training process where the trainees will be learning about a number of drugs, their formulation, uses, working and side-effects. It is necessary for an ACLS to know what medications are required in different scenarios and how to administer them in a proper way.


There also exists a difference between the nature of practitioners of BLS and ACLS due to the difference in their level. Even though the main functions and objectives of both the techniques are similar, they ACLS still includes more advance techniques as compared to BLS. As we have mentioned earlier, BLS training can be provided even to a layman. It is for everyone who needs to know basic lifesaving skills and who might not be a medical professional. These people might include coaches, teachers, first aid providers, lifeguards, babysitters, healthcare professionals etcetera. While ACLS can only be provided by healthcare professionals like nurses, paramedics, physicians etcetera. Hence, we get to know that ACLS can only be provided by someone with prior medical knowledge.


Simply put, it is basic vs. advanced. BLS, a word that is sometimes used interchangeably with resuscitation, is not necessarily carried out by medical experts, and is frequently done away from a medical context.

Contrarily, ACLS is intended just for medical practitioners. The sophisticated component of ACLS necessitates a fundamental comprehension of medical information, of which BLS is but one component.

The excellent news is that both BLS and more sophisticated ACLS professional certifications are easily accessible through the AHA or Red Cross, whether you’re searching for BLS accreditation or you’re a licensed physician looking for a professional qualification.

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