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2023 Feb

CPR Saves Lives

Be prepared for the unexpected with CPR.

Last month, the sudden cardiac arrest of Damar Hamlin, a Buffalo Bills defensive player, captured the attention and prayers of a nation. Football fans and non-fans alike were stunned as a young healthy man in the prime of life was beset with a condition that affects over 350,000 Americans: outside-of-hospital cardiac arrest. As Mr. Hamlin’s condition steadily improved over the next week, it became obvious that sideline medical staff’s quick response saved his life.

According to the American Heart Associations CPR Facts and Stats website, CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating. Immediate CPR can double or triple chances of survival after cardiac arrest. Without swift intervention, nearly 90 percent of cardiac arrests are fatal. Most Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrests or OHCA occur in homes, around 70 percent, then public settings at 18.8 percent and around 11 percent in nursing homes.

Increasing the number of folks who can proficiently administer CPR in all of the common settings has the potential to save thousands of lives. The basic idea of CPR is that during cardiac arrest, the heart cannot pump blood to the lungs and brain among other organs. CPR uses chest compressions to mimic how the heart pumps blood throughout the body.

The American Heart Association has set ambitious goals to train individuals and groups to quickly respond to cardiac arrest emergencies to bring the survival rates up. Their interactive website is designed to streamline the process of finding a certified trainer by simply entering your location.

Similarly American Red Cross offers another convenient way to learn CPR. Once you find a class and enroll, you can expect to spend up to 3 hours for in-person training, and several organizations now offer on-line lessons. Costs for CPR training varies but online can be as low as $20 while advanced courses can exceed $100.

Upon completing a basic CPR course an individual should feel confident in administering this possibly life-saving care. The first lesson includes identifying when CPR may be necessary. If you approach an adult who is not breathing or only gasping occasionally or if they appear unresponsive to questions or taps on the shoulder, he or she may need CPR performed. In the instance of a child or infant, CPR may be necessary if they are not breathing normally or are unresponsive.

The first step is to call 911 or have another person do that for you. Next, the person should be laid on his back and make sure his airway is clear. If he is not breathing, begin CPR. Initiate with 30 chest compressions, followed by 2 rescue breaths. These measures should be repeated until emergency personnel come on the scene or an automated external defibrillator or AED is located.

AEDs are used to revive someone from sudden cardiac arrest by shocking the heart back into rhythm. Most CPR classes will include instructions on how to use an AED. These have become more accessible to help mitigate cardiac arrest in public places and are found in many public spaces including shopping areas, schools, restaurants, and workplaces. While ambulance crews and police carry AEDs, they are also mounted to walls of many public areas and are designed to be used by non-medical personnel as well.

Once the device is turned on, the AED gives the user step-by-step voice instructions. It begins by telling you how to check for breathing and a pulse and how to position the electrode pads onto the person’s bare chest. Once the pads are in place, the device will automatically measure the person’s heart rhythm and determine if a shock is needed. If needed, the device indicates for the user to stand back and push a button to deliver the shock. The device is programmed not to deliver a shock if it is not necessary. The AED will also guide the user through the steps of CPR if that is still required.

The circumstances of Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest were terrifying as they were displayed for millions in real time. Hopefully, a silver lining may be that many millions more will motivated to learn CPR and be able to save many more lives.

Timothy Hardy

Dr. Timothy Hardy, M.D., FCOG, FPMRS, has been practicing medicine in the community for many years. He received his medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School and founded his own practice, Atlantic OB, in 1990, where he has been providing women with exceptional care ever since. For information, call 757-463-1234 or visit www.atlanticob.com.

Website: www.atlanticob.com

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