Speed is Key for a Heart Emergency
Published by Contra Costa Times
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2010
By Pam Dodson, RN
You are shopping, working or out for a run. Someone walks by and collapses. You notice they are jerking a little and then go limp. Would you know what to do?
Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of natural death in the United States, taking more than 350,000 lives each year—more than are lost to lung cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined. It strikes people of all ages and often without warning.
Nationwide, 6-7% of sudden cardiac arrest victims survive. Those who survive typically have four things in common:
In these cases, the community had a strong "Chain of Survival." Being prepared for a cardiac emergency is key to a successful outcome.
You might have heard about Contra Costa Emergency Medical Services' HeartSafe Community campaign. That's what this is about: Creating a strong "Chain of Survival" by teaching people about cardiac emergencies (heart attack, stroke and sudden cardiac arrest). National Emergency Medical Services Week is May 16-22. Mark it by learning how to prevent death from these conditions.
Sudden cardiac arrest
When a person falls, check to see if he or she is awake and OK. If there is no response, call 911 and begin CPR. If you don't know CPR, the 911 dispatcher will instruct you over the phone. If there is an automated external defibrillator (AED) available, send someone to get it. The AED can detect the person's heart rhythm and with a shock can restore it to normal. Since you called 911, paramedics should arrive shortly.
Don't wait to seek medical help; waiting can be deadly. The sooner treatment starts (it's best if started within the first hour of symptoms), the greater the chances are of a full recovery. If you think you or someone else is having a heart attack, call 911 as soon as possible.
Find out more about cardiac emergencies at www.cccems.org.
Dodson is a Prehospital Care Coordinator with Contra Costa Health Services' Emergency Medical Services Division. Healthy Outlook is written by the professional staff of Contra Costa Health Services, the county health department. Send questions to series coordinator Dr. David Pepper at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more health information, go to www.cchealth.org.