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Defibrillators

There are two things you want around if you ever suffer a sudden cardiac arrest or a heart attack.  One is an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and the other is a person who can administer CPR.  Without these, you have little chance of surviving a heart-stopping arrest. 

What is the difference between a Cardiac Arrest and a Heart Attack? A heart attack is caused by blocked blood flow to the heart muscle, causing it to begin to die.  Sudden cardiac arrest is caused by life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms – abnormalities in the heart’s electrical system.  The most common arrhythmia is ventricular fibrillation. 

A heart attack is often preceded by chest, arm, upper abdomen, shoulder or jaw pain.  It may also, especially in women, be accompanied by dizziness, sweating, vomiting and nausea.  There is rarely a warning before sudden cardiac arrest.  Heart attack victims usually remain conscious.  Sudden cardiac arrest victims always lose consciousness. 

Lives are rarely saved by CPR.  In fact, the survival rate for out-of-hospital CPR is estimated to be between 1 and 3 percent.  The good news is that survival rates are much improved if you know CPR and they are especially improved if you have access to an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) .   That’s why you need both.

AEDs are used to restart a heart that has stopped beating or is beating too quickly to create a pulse.  They can be used by anyone.  Even you.   The instructions are spoken to you directly from the machine itself.  AEDs will only work if the heart is in a position to benefit from the shock (they won’t even fire otherwise, so you can’t accidentally shock someone who doesn’t need it!). 

Despite what you have seen in the movies, CPR will not “make the heart start”.  Rather, it simulates the beating of the heart, thereby assisting the circulation of oxygenated blood to vital organs.  This essentially keeps the blood moving and the brain alive until advanced support techniques can be provided by an AED or similar device.   Time is your worst enemy in the case of a sudden cardiac arrest.  Permanent brain damage can occur within 4 minutes.

Research has shown that performing CPR on a cardiac arrest victim prior to shocking with an AED makes the heart much more likely to respond.  The only exception is if the defibrillator is with the victim when the heart stops (unlikely).  If so, use it right away.

Research shows that cardiac arrest victims are unlikely to respond to a second or third succssive shock if the first doesn’t work.  They are, in fact, much more likely to respond to a repeat shock after two minutes of CPR.

Do you know CPR?  Even if you can’t remember all the techniques and ratios you were taught, doing CPR badly is better than doing nothing at all.  Remember, the person has no pulse.  They are essentially dead.  You can’t make it worse.

How to Save a Life in Two Steps (even if you are untrained in CPR):

1.  Call 9-1-1

2.  Push hard and fast in the center of the victims chest.  Don’t be afraid, just do it.  I mean, wouldn’t you want someone to do it for you if you were dying?  You can only help.  Keep doing compressions until an AED arrives and is ready for use or an EMS provider takes over. 

This is called “Hands-Only CPR”.  Studies show that these two steps can be as effective as conventional CPR (chest compressions plus mouth-to-mouth).  Providing Hands-Only CPR to an adult who has collapsed from a sudden cardiac arrest can more than double their chance of survival.

*  How fast should you push on the chest?  103 beats per minute.  That is exactly the beats per minute in the disco song “Stayin’ Alive”.  A study by the Univ. of Illinois found that 10 docs and 5 med students who listened to the song while practicing CPR not only performed perfectly, they remember the technique five weeks later.

*  If you have been trained in CPR and you are confident in your abilities to provide rescue breaths with minimal interruptions in chest compressions, then you should provide either conventional CPR using a 30:2 compression-to-ventilation ratio or Hands-Only CPR.  Whichever you use, you need to continue it right up until the moment that an AED is ready to use, or an EMS provider takes over.

Be ready to help someone.  Get online CPR Training!  And buy an AED for your home, office, boat, cabin…  It may save your life or the life of someone near you.

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There is a good chance that you will personally witness a cardiac arrest in your lifetime.  For me, that’s enough of a reason to hope that everyone knows CPR (especially the guy standing next to me if I suddenly drop dead).  Without it, you have little chance of surviving a heart-stopping arrest. 

My business partner, Allegro CEO Craig Hood, recently completed a CPR course and kindly enlightened us on some changes in the way CPR is approached and rendered.  Every year the guidelines change as new information is gathered.  Read these myths, tips and updates and then get signed up for a class!

*  The bad news:  Lives are rarely saved by CPR.  In fact, the survival rate for out-of-hospital CPR is estimated to be between 1 and 3 percent.  The good news is that survival rates are much improved if you know CPR and they are especially improved if you have access to an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).  AEDs are used to restart a heart that has stopped beating or is beating too quickly to create a pulse.  It can be administered by anyone.  Even you.  The instructions are spoken to you directly from the machine itself.  AEDs will only work if the heart is in a position to benefit from the shock (they won’t even fire otherwise, so you can’t accidently shock someone who doesn’t need it!). 

*  Despite what you have seen in the movies, CPR will not “make the heart start”.  Rather, it simulates the beating of the heart, thereby assisting the circulation of oxygenated blood to vital organs.  This essentially keeps the blood moving and the brain alive until advanced support techniques can be provided by an AED or similar device. 

*  Permanent brain damage can occur within 4 minutes.

A heart attack is not the same as a cardiac arrest.  A heart attack is caused by blocked blood flow to the heart muscle, causing it to begin to die.  Sudden cardiac arrest is caused by life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms – abnormalities in the heart’s electrical system.  The most common arrhythmia is ventricular fibrillation.  A heart attack is often preceded by chest, arm, upper abdomen, shoulder or jaw pain.  It may also, especially in women, be accompanied by dizziness, sweating, vomiting and nausea.  There is rarely a warning before sudden cardiac arrest.  Heart attack victims usually remain conscious.  Sudden cardiac arrest victims always lose consciousness. 

*  It has been circulated on the Internet that if you are alone at the time of a heart attack you should start coughing vigerously until help comes (Cough CPR).  This myth began because patients undergoing cardiac catheterization may develop abnormal heart beats (arrhythmias) and, in these circumstances, it is sometimes possible for a conscious person on a medical setting to cough forcefully enough until the arrhythmia disapppears or is treated.  According to Dr. Jennifer H. Mieres, spokesperson for the American Heart Assoc. and director of nuclear cardiology/associate professor of clinical medicine at NYU, it is unlikely that cough CPR would be of any benefit in out-of-hospital situations.

*  Research has shown that performing CPR on a cardiac arrest victim prior to shocking with an AED makes the heart much more likely to respond.  The only exception is if the defbrillator is with the victim when the heart stops (unlikely).  If so, use it right away.

*  Research shows that cardiac arrest victims are unlikely to respond to a second or third succssive shock if the first doesn’t work.  They are, in fact, much more likely to respond to a repeat shock after two minutes of CPR.

*  Even if you can’t remember all the techniques and ratios you were taught, doing CPR badly is better than doing nothing at all.  Remember, the person has no pulse.  They are essentially dead.  You can’t make it worse.

How to Save a Life in Two Steps (even if you are untrained in CPR):

1.  Call 9-1-1

2.  Push hard and fast in the center of the victims chest.  Don’t be afraid, just do it.  I mean, wouldn’t you want someone to do it for you if you were dying?  You can only help.  Keep doing compressions until an AED arrives and is ready for use or an EMS provider takes over. 

This is called “Hands-Only CPR”.  Studies show that these two steps can be as effective as conventional CPR (chest compressions plus mouth-to-mouth).  Providing Hands-Only CPR to an adult who has collapsed from a sudden cardiac arrest can more than double their chance of survival.

*  How fast should you push on the chest?  103 beats per minute.  That is exactly the beats per minute in the disco song “Stayin’ Alive”.  A study by the Univ. of Illinois found that 10 docs and 5 med students who listened to the song while practicing CPR not only performed perfectly, they remember the technique five weeks later.

*  If you have been trained in CPR and you are confident in your abilities to provide rescue breaths with minimal interruptions in chest compressions, then you should provide either conventional CPR using a 30:2 compression-to-ventilation ratio or Hands-Only CPR.  Whichever you use, you need to continue it right up until the moment that an AED is ready to use, or an EMS provider takes over.

*  Heart disease is not a man’s disease.  Heart disease is the #1 killer of women.  Know the Heart Attack & Stroke Warning Signs:  Men vs. Women.

* There are known and published risk factors for heart disease.  Are you at risk for a heart attack or stroke?

*  Know the facts about heart disease.

*  Get educated and get involved.  Here are 5 Ways to Celebrate American Heart Month.

Do you have any tips or myths?  Share them please!

Valentine’s Day and President’s Day aren’t the only holidays we’ll be celebrating this month. February is American Heart Month! Cross my heart.

It seems that matters of the heart are quite serious. So serious that every year since 1963, Congress has required the President to proclaim February ‘American Heart Month’.  The American Heart Association helps to draft this proclamation and get it signed.  Who knew?

Even so, after 45 years of ‘proclaiming’, cardiovascular disease remains the number 1 killer (including stroke) in our nation today. Let’s join President Obama and the American Heart Association’s plight to fight heart disease and raise awareness, shall we?

Here’s how:

1. Get Heart Smart. Like the American Heart Association (AMA) says, “learn and live”. Did you know that the death rate from cardiovascular disease (CVD) is higher for females than males? And that the warning signs of a heart attack may be different for men and women?  Read Staggering Heart Facts and Heart Attack & Stroke Warning Signs: Men vs Women.

2. Check yourself. According to the AMA, if you’ve made it to middle age (eg, 50) and you’re a non-smoker without high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes then congratulations!  You can look forward to: a substantially longer life; lower risk for CVD; lower risks for CVD death and non-CVD death; better health-related quality of life in older age; and, substantially reduced Medicare expenditures. Start monitoring your cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose levels now. They’re sneaky and you might not even know you’re in trouble. The good news is, they are manageable with help from your doc. If you smoke, quit it. It’s gross and stinky and stupid and so uncool,  unlike you.  Here is a List of Heart Attack & Stroke Risk Factors and Guidelines.

Products to help you measure and track from home:  cholesterol test kit, blood pressure monitors and diabetic meters & test kits.   Monitor your heart health here.

3.  Get Heart Healthy.  Eating right, staying fit and managing your weight will go a long way to keeping a heart attack at bay.  Learn how here.  Get started with  heart rate monitors.

4.  Spread the Word.  As with all diseases, I believe that awareness is half the battle.  You could save someone’s life by sharing your knowledge about heart disease with your family, friends, schools, social groups, community groups.  Even if it is just in casual conversation, try to work in “have you had your blood pressure checked lately?”  or “did you know that… “.  The AMA asks you to be part of the cure.  Become an advocate!  Another way to spread the word is to get involved with local heart charities.  You can volunteer at hospitals, deliver leaflets door to door, start your own campaign or attend charity events.  Here are some specific ways to give.

5.  Cover your bases.  Do you know what to do in the event of a heart attack?  Do you know how to do CPR? Does your school, home, company and shopping mall have an Automated External Diffibrilator (AED)?  They are so affordable now, there is no excuse.  If you or a loved on is at risk for a heart attack you may also consider getting a 911 Medical Alert System

See all Diagnostic Products.

If you’ve read all of these articles and you crave more, visit the American Heart Association website.

Happy American Heart Month!  Please take care of yourself.  We heart you.

-v

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