(Shared from the American Heart Association/October 13, 2016 ) - October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month, dedicated to raising awareness about what sudden cardiac arrest is and how to respond in the event of cardiac arrest. The American Heart Association (AHA) encourages everyone to learn to identify sudden cardiac arrest and respond quickly to help save the victim.
Sudden cardiac arrests kill more Americans than any other illness. Most arrests occur at home or in public, and only 41% of those people get the immediate help they need to survive until emergency medical crews arrive. As a result, 89% of people who have a cardiac arrest outside a hospital die.
“As a cardiac rhythm specialist at Catholic Medical Center, I can attest to how devastating it has been for too many families in New Hampshire to lose a loved one in this sudden and tragic way,” said Daniel M. Philbin, Jr., MD, FACC, FHRS, Arrhythmia Service, New England Heart and Vascular Institute. ”Rapid administration of CPR by a bystander, as emergency personnel are coming to the scene, could dramatically change these dismal outcomes, markedly improving the patient’s likelihood of survival.”
Heart attack is not the same as cardiac arrest. The term "heart attack" is often mistakenly used to describe sudden cardiac arrest. While a heart attack may cause cardiac arrest and sudden death, the terms don't mean the same thing. Heart attacks are caused by a blockage that stops blood flow to the heart. A heart attack (or myocardial infarction) refers to death of heart muscle tissue due to the loss of blood supply, not necessarily resulting in the death of the heart attack victim. Cardiac arrest is caused when the heart's electrical system malfunctions and stops beating. Death occurs within minutes after the heart stops. This is caused by abnormal, or irregular, heart rhythms (called arrhythmias). The most common arrhythmia in cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation. This is when the heart's lower chambers suddenly start beating chaotically and don't pump blood.
Cardiac arrest may be reversed if CPR is performed or an automated external defibrillator (AED) is used to shock the heart and restore a normal heart rhythm within a few minutes. Hands-Only CPR has just two easy steps: If you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse, (1) Call 9-1-1; and (2) Push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the disco song “Stayin’ Alive” until help arrives. According to the AHA, people feel more confident performing Hands-Only CPR and are more likely to remember the correct rhythm when trained to the beat of the disco classic “Stayin’ Alive.” "Stayin’ Alive" has more than 100 beats per minute, which is the rate you should push on the chest during CPR.
“Learning ‘Hands-Only CPR’ and adopting CPR training as part of the high school health curriculum can help our communities better protect ourselves and our loved ones from this devastating scourge,” said Dr. Philbin. “All it takes is the will to make it change.”