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Nobody knows when someone they are with or around will experience a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). This is when a person’s heart stops beating. The blood in their body no longer flows to their brain or other vital organs. An SCA could happen at a mall, in a sports complex or many other places. It’s a life-threatening situation. The precious time waiting for emergency responders could be too long. A portable device called an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is designed to save lives in these situations. It can check a person’s heart rhythm. An AED can give an electric shock to a person’s heart, so normal rhythm can quickly be restored.
An AED is a portable device that runs on batteries and is lightweight. It comes with sticky pads that contain sensors. These pads are attached to the chest of the person experiencing an SCA. The sensors in the pads transmit information about a person’s heart rhythm to a computer located inside the AED. This computer is programmed to analyze the heart rhythm data. It can determine if a person needs an electric shock. If one is needed, an AED will provide It. An AED can tell someone when to administer a shock. It also comes with the electrodes necessary to deliver the shock. When an AED is used soon after the start of a medical emergency, a person’s heart rhythm can be returned to normal within minutes.
Using The AED
It is helpful if a person has taken a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) course before operating an AED, but it is not necessary. Some people hesitate to use an AED because they are worried something could go wrong, and they would be held legally responsible. Each state has laws similar to the Federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act (CASA). This is legal protection for individuals who are untrained but attempt to provide assistance to someone having a medical emergency. The AED is designed to be user-friendly. Any individual can use it no matter if they are trained or not. It’s important to make certain the person having the medical emergency is not near water. Once the AED is turned on, the person using it will be given both visual and voice prompts to explain exactly what must be done.
According to the National Heart Lung And Blood Institute, AEDs are very safe to use. There haven’t been any reports of an AED causing harm to a bystander or anyone who has used it. There is also no record of an AED delivering harmful shocks to someone having a medical emergency.
There are a variety of CPR and AED cell phone apps available. Their numbers are increasing. Many of the AED apps currently available are not free. Some apps are designed to determine the location of a person’s smartphone and show them the location of the nearest AED. Many agree there needs to be uniform standards established as well as improvements in usability and design to make these apps more effective.
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who is trying to be healthier this year. She currently writes for AEDs Today, a leading supplier of automatic external defibrillators.
Ellen* wasn’t sure if the crazy thumping in her chest was just heart palpitations from stress, from working out, or if it was something worse. She sometimes felt a little short of breath, but because her symptoms improved within a few minutes, she tried not to worry about it. Sometimes though, in the middle of the night, she couldn’t sleep because deep down she was worried about her heart.
Ellen’s heart had been beating erratically for years, but because she was so busy caring for her family and elderly in-laws she just didn’t have time to make an appointment for her own physical exam. Ellen mentioned her crazy heart beat to friend one day, who insisted that she see a cardiologist immediately, which is when Ellen’s Atrial fibrillation or A-fib was diagnosed. Some people refer to this as Atrial Flutter.
Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation
Not everyone has all of these symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing any combination of these symptoms, please do contact your health care provider immediately. And, if you’re having chest pain, Call 9-1-1. (more…)
When my mom’s face started to droop to the left and she couldn’t form words, I knew that she was having a stroke. It turned out that by acting fast, we were able to minimize the damage and she made a good recovery. Other families are not as lucky.
As we go about our busy lives, sometimes the unexpected happens. Being prepared and knowing what to do, especially around family members who may be at higher risk of stroke can be lifesaving. A quick review here can help you understand what the different types of stroke are, how they occur, how to recognize them to get help immediately and also how to help prevent them.
What is a stroke?
Very simply, when a portion of the brain is deprived of oxygen, brain cells die.
There are 3 types of stroke:
1: Ischemic stroke from a clot. This is the most common type and is responsible for 87% of strokes.
2. Hemorrhagic stroke from bleeding: Usually from a weakened blood vessel and very high blood pressure
If you guessed Hands only CPR, then you win the prize– a hot mashup from DJ Earworm of songs guaranteed to satisfy everyone’s musical taste. And, all of them at 100 beats per minute, the precise tempo that’s perfect for effective CPR.
I caught up with DJ Earworm, known for his United State of Pop the other day and we talked about why he decided to create this fantastic mashup for the American Heart Association.
We both have had experiencing performing CPR and as he said, there’s that moment, when you see that someone needs help, but you’re a little panicked trying to remember what to do. And, there are some people who decide not to do anything for fear of doing something wrong.
This compilation of powerhourse songs is meant to encourage people to act if a strangers or someone they love collapses from cardiac arrest. It was inspired by the Bee Gee’s classic “Stayin’ Alive” which has more than 100 beats per minute, which is the rate at which you perfom Hands-Only CPR. (more…)
When someone is having a stroke, every second counts.
A stroke occurs when the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen and the tissue begins to die. Because our brains are the control center for virtually every aspect of life from speech and sight to balance and coordination, when a person has a stroke, there are some signs and symptoms you may be able to recognize quickly so that you can get help FAST!
Signs of a stroke
If you or someone else is experiencing these symptoms, CALL 9-1-1 immediately.
Are you at risk for Stroke?
Take this free on-line profile to better understand your risk of stroke.
Every minute counts when the brain is deprived of oxygen, so getting to a Hospital that has a Stroke Team in place increases the chance of a healthy recovery.
This video from Dr. Peter Fung, Medical Director of the Stroke Program at El Camino Hospital explains how to reduce your risk of stroke.
If you know someone in the SF Bay Area who has had a stroke and needs more support, you might find this caregiving information valuable.
Disclosure: I am working with El Camino Hospital to increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of Stroke and what to do if you suspect someone is having a stroke.
I love watching the latest round of survival shows on Discovery and Nat Geo, like Survival Alaska where teams race through the wilderness of Alaska and encounter treacherous obstacles. Inevitably someone falls in a glacial river or has to climb an ice wall and suffers from the first stages of hypothermia. You see them shivering, with teeth chattering, trying to warm up. And the voice over informs us that people can have serious consequences from hypothermia.
Or there are other shows that feature Bear Grylls, you know the guy from Man Versus Wild, stripping down (my favorite part, love the washboard stomach!) and jumping into an ice filled lake, which inevitably results in hypothermia. Then Bear tells us while trying to build a fire from a candy wrapper and shivering that hypothermia is dangerous and can lead to death.
Recently I met a woman, Nancy (not her real name) who knew that her heart was damaged from the chemotherapy she received for her breast cancer. She was being cared for regularly by a cardiologist and was having routine angiograms and other tests. Unfortunately, one day she had a heart attack, which meant that her heart wasn’t able to pump oxygen rich blood to any parts of her body. With medication and after receiving several sets of electrical shocks from a defibrillator, her heart started to beat again. Her doctor knew that her coronary arteries weren’t clogged. This wasn’t a heart attack from a clot, but from damage to her heart from the chemotherapy. In order to preserve her functioning, her treatment was to induce a therapeutic hypothermia, to cool her body way, way down from a normal 98.6 degrees F to 91 degrees. (more…)
Pam wasn’t sure if she was having palpitations from stress or if it was something worse. Her heart had been beating erratically for years and she’d had testing in the past that didn’t show any problem, so though she wasn’t too worried, she thought she should mention it at her physical exam.
Her primary care provider made a long list of all the things Pam had to do to stay healthy, from taking Vitamin D and getting some weight bearing exercise to having labs drawn and seeing a cardiologist.
How it’s diagnosed
Pam saw the cardiologist a few months later and was surprised to learn that they had a nifty new way of monitoring the heart for 2 weeks. All she had to do was wear a patch around her left collarbone for 2 weeks. I looked it up and found out it was a Zio®XT Patch. She could exercise, shower and go to work, while the little chips inside the patch recorded every one of her heart beats 24 hours/day for 2 weeks. Then she would just mail it in! Not bad, she thought.
In the past, we had EKG’s that could capture 30 to 60 seconds of a person’s heart rhythm, but we all knew that we needed more time. Then along came the Holter monitor, where 24 hours was the maximum time captured and a person had to wear a cumbersome set of electrodes and carry around a device the size of a 5×7 picture frame. Now, with new technology, we have the opportunity of peaking into a person’s heart activity for much longer time and making it easier to be monitored. Now, seemingly rare events can be seen with continuous monitoring for weeks not hours.
Pam found out that her irregular heart beat was actually Atrial Fibrillation and not from looking at this photo! Some people have symptoms, many don’t. For some the symptoms are constant and for others the symptoms are erratic.Having an opportunity to be monitored for 2 weeks helped her cardiologists figure out that she had Atrial fib a few times a week. (more…)
We’ve all heard about the typical causes of heart disease from high blood pressure and too much cholesterol, but what about those atypical scenarios when someone suddenly has a heart attack?
Though rare, we’ve all heard of someone who seems to have experienced a heart attack from an overwhelming amount of stress or a broken heart. I just learned that more and more women in our over-stressed, go, go, go world are experiencing these sudden and potentially lethal events known as Takotsubo’s.
There are the common cases of women who have sudden chest pain and a heart attack after hearing that a loved one has died, which led to the name “Broken Heart syndrome.” (more…)
We all know what it’s like to make that resolution to get up off the couch and start going back to the gym at the start of the New Year. Good luck finding a spot on the elliptical – everyone has the same resolution to finally get in shape and starts now. I hope you’ll stick with it and continue exercising on a regular basis every week this year.
I also wanted to write a blog about how weight loss can do more for you than just help you fit back into those jeans waiting patiently in your closet for you to drop those 5 or 10 extra pounds. We all want to look better in our clothes, but we also want to transform our future and improve our heart health.
As many of you know, weight loss is not just about going to the gym – it’s a complete lifestyle shift. It’s behavioral at it’s core. It’s complicated! It’s about making choices, and getting the support you need, because let’s face it, if losing weight was simple, we’d all be fitting into our jeans and never worrying about pinching that extra inch.
Why it’s important to exercise
Did you know that exercising regularly for 20-30 minutes each day will help: