By Rebecca Barnes
February is Heart Health Month, the perfect time to learn about CPR and why it is important to you. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a combination of chest compressions and rescue breathing performed on victims having a cardiac event.
During cardiac arrest, the heart stops pumping blood. CPR is an emergency procedure to sustain blood flow to the brain and heart, “buying time” until spontaneous circulation returns.
Why Is Learning CPR Important?
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), every 40 seconds, someone has a heart attack. And approximately 80 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home. Simply put: The life you save with CPR is most likely to be someone you love.
Also, nearly 92 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims die before they get to the hospital. Statistics show that immediate CPR can more than double a victim’s chance of survival. Obtaining assistance immediately is crucial to survival. However, 70 percent of Americans don’t know what to do during a cardiac event, according to the AHA.
Since four out of five cardiac arrests happen at home, it is imperative to take the time to learn CPR. CPR training takes less than an hour, and anyone can learn.
Just ask Manassas resident Donna Flory. “On July 27, 2013, at 1:15 in the morning, my husband Don suffered a massive heart attack, resulting in a cardiac arrest in my living room,” she shared. Her husband had a complete physical six weeks prior, with no risk indicators.
Already a supporter of the Red Cross and trained by them in CPR, Donna dialed 911, put the dispatcher on speaker and started chest compressions, all within seconds. Don was rushed to the hospital and eventually made a full recovery, because Donna had started the “Chain of Survival” which can improve chances of survival and recovery for victims of heart attack, stroke, and other emergencies, according to the AHA.
The “Chain of Survival” refers to the steps taken in reaction to cardiac arrest:
1. Recognizing early a cardiac event and activating the emergency response system.
2. Performing immediate CPR with an emphasis on chest compression.
3. Providing rapid defibrillation.
4. Conducting effective advanced life support.
5. Integrating post-cardiac arrest care.
The most recent research has shown that chest compressions alone are critical for starting the chain of survival. What is Hands-only CPR?
Hands-only CPR is CPR without mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths. Conducting hands-only CPR includes first calling 9-1-1 and pushing hard and fast on the center of the person’s chest (to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive,” the classic disco song).
This is recommended for use on adults who suddenly collapse. Conventional CPR is still advised for infants and children, adult victims who are found unconscious and not breathing normally, and for victims of drowning or collapse due to breathing problems, based on information from the AHA.
Don and Donna Flory now have even more reasons to support the Red Cross. “I always had a message to share, but I have a bigger one now,” said Donna. “You can’t go through life thinking you’re not capable of learning CPR or using it when you need it. If sharing our story makes one more person be more prepared, then the American Red Cross did their job, and so did I, making you aware of it.”
Rebecca Barnes (email@example.com) is the publisher of Prince William Living and the Public Information Officer for the Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department.