October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month. The goal is to help the public become more familiar with sudden cardiac arrest, how it affects people and what can be done to help save lives.
Sudden cardiac arrest is defined as an electrical abnormality of the heart’s natural rhythm, which leads to loss of heart function. This causes the heart to speed up or slow down to the point where it can no longer pump blood effectively.
SCA claims one life every two minutes, taking more lives each year than breast cancer, lung cancer or AIDS, according to the Heart Rhythm Society, a leading resource on cardiac pacing and electrophysiology.
Because 95% of people who experience SCA die from not receiving life-saving defibrillation within four to six minutes, time to treatment is critical. However, many people do not know how to respond when someone experiences SCA.
The Heart Rhythm Society advises the following actions in response to a potential SCA emergency:
- Know the signs of SCA to react quickly. SCA strikes immediately and without warning. Victims will collapse, become unresponsive and will not breathe normally, if at all.
- Call 911 as soon as possible.
- Start CPR as quickly as possible. Bystanders should provide high-quality chest compressions by pushing hard and fast (about 100 beats per minute) in the middle of the victim’s chest, with minimal interruptions. Hands-only CPR is proven to be just as effective as CPR using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
- Use an automatic external defibrillator, if one is available on site. AEDs have been proven to save lives and they only deliver a shock when an irregular heart rhythm is detected. They are increasingly available at many public locations.
The goal of the Snider Community Heart Watch, a task force sponsored by Fairfield Medical Center that includes more than 30 physicians, nurses, community members and hospital employees, is to increase awareness about SCA and decrease deaths among people who experience SCA.
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Source: www.lancastereaglegazette.com; Dr. Michael Reinig; October 16, 2013.