Heart First Aid: Survive a Heart Attack

eJournal > Heart First Aid: Survive a Heart Attack

by The Medical Tribune and an Anonymous Source


Study Finds Sixth-Graders Can Be Taught To Use A DefibrillatorThe Medical Tribune, October 19, 1999. Dr. Gust H. Bardy, a professor of cardiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, set out to prove that the latest automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are so easy to use, even a child can operate them.

After giving a group of 19 sixth-graders in the Seattle area just one minute of instruction on their use, he showed that the children could correctly apply the device to a training mannequin. Not only did the children properly use the device, they took only 30 seconds longer on average than a fully trained paramedic to apply a shock that could restore a heartbeat.

Every year about 300,000 people suffer sudden cardiac arrest. This is caused by ventricular fibrillation – a chaotic abnormal electrical activity that causes the heart to quiver in an uncontrollable fashion, interfering with the pumping action of the heart. The defibrillator provides an electrical shock to the heart that helps to restore its natural rhythm.

A properly used defibrillator can save a life if it is used on time. You have an 80 percent chance of surviving a near certain-death event if you are shocked within two minutes,” says Dr. Bardy. The chances of fatality increase by 10 percent for each minute of delay, and more than 75 percent overwhelming majority of those who suffer cardiac arrest do so inconveniently away from a hospital. That is why Dr. Bardy suggests that defibrillators should be as common in the home as smoke detectors or fire extinguishers. Defibrillators cost about $3,000 each, but Dr. Bardy noted their price has been dropping, and he expected they will eventually cost less than $1,000.

This shows the importance and possibilities for involving youth in emergency preparations, as well as the need for handy emergency equipment. Find more on this study and its background in the October 19th issue of Circulation. Additional information can be found at the American Heart Association’s CPR and AEDs web page.

Controversial Cough CPR Technique

We found the following that is being passed around through heart attack support group eLetters and emails that is not supported by any medical organization that we can find. However, if nothing else is available, it may keep you alive until help is found. Use your discretion, and do not recommend it as a proven technique.

When alone, a person whose heart stops beating properly, and who begins to feel faint, has only about 10 seconds before losing consciousness. However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously. A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest. A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without let up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again. Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs, and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm. In this way, heart attack victims can get to a phone and, between breaths, call for help.

Another scenario for use of this technique is that you are in your car with no cellular phone and you feel a heart attack coming on. Pop your hood, get out of your car, open your hood, go to the back of your car, wave for help and cough as above.