February is American Heart Month, a good time to remind people about the importance of knowing how to properly perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), especially in the event that someone experiences a heart attack.
February is American Heart Month, a good time to remind people about the importance of knowing how to properly perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), especially in the event that someone experiences a heart attack. “About 1.1 million Americans suffer a heart attack each year and about 460,000 die from the attack,” said Laurie Watson Stone, regional director of marketing and public relations for the St. Joseph Health System.Half of these deaths occur within one hour of the start of heart attack symptoms — before the victim reaches the hospital — often because they receive treatment too late, she said. “For each minute that passes without defibrillation and CPR, the chance of survival for a cardiac arrest victim decreases by seven to 10 percent,” Watson Stone said. “Many lives could be saved if more people were prepared to intervene to help heart attack victims. People can help prepare for cardiac emergencies by learning CPR.” OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS SECTION 2/15/2004 – CASA benefit features a gourmet meal and auction – Enrollment is now open for preschool on HSU campus Teresa Levin, a registered nurse at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, and the Beauchamp family know how important CPR skills are. Teresa recently helped save Ron Beauchamp’s life using CPR while they were on vacation. Teresa was awakened in the middle of the night by Ron’s wife, Heidi, in the next cabin after Ron had collapsed and was not breathing. Teresa began CPR and instructed another neighbor, Dennis Cahill, how to perform chest compressions while her husband called 9-1-1. Teresa performed CPR for 20 minutes before EMT personnel arrived with the Automated External Defibrillator. Ron is now fine and has returned to all normal activities, including his duties as a husband and father. Teresa was honored for her lifesaving actions at the American Red Cross Heroes Recognition Luncheon on Jan. 28.Chain of survivalThe American Heart Association hopes to boost the number of people who survive heart attacks by teaching the “chain of survival” for heart attack victims. The chain of survival is a sequence of actions that people must take, including administering CPR, in cardiac emergencies to treat people as quickly as possible. The chain, according to the American Heart Association, has four links:* Early access. People must recognize a heart attack immediately and call an ambulance. * Early CPR. It is important for victims to receive CPR quickly. CPR’s mouth-to-mouth breathing and chest compressions circulate blood and oxygen to vital organs and buy time until defibrillation can be given. * Early defibrillation. An electric shock must be given to the heart within minutes of a heart attack. A device called a defibrillator gives shocks to the heart, stopping the heart attack and helping the heart resume its normal rhythm. * Early advanced life support. Heart attack victims need care from medical professionals as fast as possible; the faster they get attention, the better their chances of survival and recovery.”Because the chain of survival starts with an alert person who recognizes the medical emergency and takes action, many people can join this chain,” said Watson Stone. “Taking these steps can give cardiac arrest victims a second chance at life. If more people are prepared for cardiac emergencies, more lives can be saved.”For information on CPR classes, call the American Red Cross at 443-4521. Women’s heart health One focus for American Heart Month this year is an educational campaign about women and cardiovascular disease, said Watson Stone.”Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for American women,” she said. “Among heart patients under 50, women are more than twice as likely as men to die of heart disease. But, many women are not aware of their risk, and their incidence of heart-risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension, continues to rise. Women can take charge of their own heart health by eliminating or reducing risk factors, such as smoking, obesity and lack of exercise. “Even a modest weight loss has been shown to lower blood pressure, decreasing the danger of heart attack,” Watson Stone added. “Women also should learn to recognize the heart attack symptoms that affect women specifically, so that they can seek help when they need it. Although a blockage of blood flow to the heart causes most heart attacks, women and men experience very different symptoms. Men typically experience pain in the middle to left chest, left shoulder and jaw. They may feel pressure under the breastbone. Men are more likely than women to experience dizziness and fainting.”For women, she said, chest pain frequently has other causes, and nearly two-thirds of women who suffer heart attacks have no history of chest pain. “Their heart attack pain, if they experience any, is likely to be in the right back, arm, shoulder, neck and throat,” Watson Stone said. “Compared with men, women have more non-pain symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, indigestion, shortness of breath, fatigue and profuse sweating. Because women often fail to recognize heart attack symptoms, they typically wait 18 minutes longer than men to go to the emergency room.”Exercise, even light exercise such as walking, she said, is greatly beneficial to the heart and helps in weight loss, thus lowering blood pressure.”This combined with a diet featuring less sodium and saturated fat and more fiber and healthy protein are two basic ways to dramatically create a heart healthier lifestyle,” Watson Stone said.For heart healthCardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, and many risk factors are associated with cardiovascular disease. Most can be managed, but some cannot. “The aging process and hereditary predisposition are risk factors that cannot be altered,” said Watson Stone. “Until age 50, men are at greater risk than women of developing heart disease, though once a woman enters menopause, her risk triples.”Many people with cardiovascular disease have elevated or high cholesterol levels. “Low HDL cholesterol (known as the ‘good’ cholesterol) and high LDL cholesterol (known as the ‘bad’ cholesterol) are more specifically linked to cardiovascular disease than is total cholesterol,” she said.”A blood test, administered by most health care professionals, is used to determine cholesterol levels,” Watson Stone added.Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) of the vessels that supply the heart with blood is the most common cause of heart attacks, she said.”Atherosclerosis and high cholesterol usually occur toge-ther,” Watson Stone said, “though cholesterol levels can change quickly and atherosclerosis generally takes decades to develop. The link between high triglyceride levels in the blood and heart disease is not as well established as the link between high cholesterol and heart disease. According to some studies, a high triglyceride level is an independent risk factor for heart disease in some people. High homocysteine levels have been identified as an independent risk factor for heart disease. Homocysteine can be measured by a blood test that must be ordered by a health care professional.”(Source: Times-Standard, Feb 2004)