Tag Archives: sudden cardiac arrest awareness

How Obesity Plays a Deadly Role in Cardiac Arrest Among Young People

The Good News? Early Screening for Cardiovascular Risk Factors Can Save Lives.


We all know that being overweight or obese is bad for your health, but did you know the extent to which obesity and other risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol are linked to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in young people between the ages of five and 34?

A recent study conducted by Sumeet S. Chugh, MD, medical director of Cedars-Sinai’s Heart Rhythm Center in Los Angeles and a leader in sudden cardiac death research, found that easily identifiable cardiovascular risk factors were common in young people who suffer from cardiac arrest.

First, a quick word about SCA. Unlike a heart attack, which occurs when one or more coronary artery becomes blocked, SCA occurs when the heart stops beating, stopping the flow of blood to the brain and to other vital organs. SCA often occurs abruptly and without warning. If the heartbeat is not restored with an electrical shock, death follows within minutes. In fact, SCA accounts for more than 350,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Cardiac arrest claims one life every 90 seconds and accounts for more deaths than colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, influenza, pneumonia, auto accidents, HIV, firearms, and house fires combined (Heart Rhythm Society).

Obesity can significantly increase the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, and all three of these conditions are closely connected with heart disease. In fact, Science Daily reports that being overweight or obese increases a person’s risk of coronary heart disease by up to 28% compared to those with a healthy body weight, even if they have healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels!

We recently investigated What Causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Young People and found that although causes of SCA in children and young adults vary, death is often a result of genetic heart abnormalities, structural abnormalities, or commotio cordis caused by athletic activity. However, researchers at Cedars-Sinai have discovered that obesity and other common (and often preventable) cardiovascular risk factors may play a much greater role in SCA in children and younger people than previously known.

Obesity, Other Risks Play Large Role in Sudden Cardiac Arrest Among the Young,” an article published by the hospital about Dr. Chugh’s study, notes that “Combinations of obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking were found in nearly 60 percent of cases studied. The findings shed light on a public health problem among the young that has remained largely unsolved.”

“One of the revelations of this study is that risk factors such as obesity may play a much larger role for the young people who die from sudden cardiac arrest than previously known,” said Dr. Chugh.

The comprehensive 16-hospital, multiyear assessment was conducted as part of the Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study.  The study was partially funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Routine Preventative Visits May Reduce Cardiovascular Risk

In the article, Dr. Chugh suggests extending prevention efforts (such as offering resources for smoking cessation programs, sharing exercise guidelines, and tips for healthy eating) to include routine preventive screenings for children and young adults. This addition could help reduce cardiovascular risk.

“The added benefit of such screenings is that early efforts to reduce cardiovascular risk are known to translate into reduction of adult cardiovascular disease,” he said.

These visits, typically covered at no charge by health insurance providers (healthcare.gov), usually include screenings, checkups, and counseling. The goal of these visits is to help prevent health problems before a young person at risk for sudden cardiac arrest experiences any symptoms. By reducing known risk factors for cardiovascular disease, we may simultaneously lower the number of deaths caused by cardiac arrest.

We hope you’ll visit our blog in the coming weeks for more information on smoking cessation and for strategies to prevent heart disease. In the meantime, if you’re thinking about purchasing a new or recertified AED for your home or workplace, or you’d like to schedule AED training or maintenance, visit AED.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. We also welcome your emails, you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

What Causes Sudden Death in Young People?

These 4 Heart Problems Are Often Blamed for Sudden Death in Young People

Although thankfully very rare, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) claims the lives of an estimated 6,000-8,000 individuals under the age of 35 each year (Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation).  While a vast majority of the more than 356,000 cardiac arrests that are recorded each year occur in adults over the age of 35 who suffer from coronary artery disease, these numbers are still something to be concerned about. The Mayo Clinic estimates that perhaps 1 in every 50,000 SCA deaths a year occurs in young athletes.

While it’s uncommon, and millions of elementary, high school, and collegiate athletes compete each year without incident, SCA can happen at any time and to anyone. If you think that you or your child might be at risk of sudden death, be sure to talk to your doctor about precautions you can take.

What Causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Young People?

Causes of SCA in children and young adults vary; however, most often death is a result of genetic heart abnormalities, structural abnormalities, or commotio cordis.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Typically an inherited condition, HCM causes the heart muscle cells to enlarge and which then causes the walls of the ventricle (usually the left ventricle) to thicken. This may block the blood flow out of the ventricle — if this occurs, it’s called obstructive HCM.

Non-obstructive HCM, according to the American Heart Association, “can affect the heart’s mitral valve, causing blood to leak backward through the valve. Sometimes, the thickened heart muscle doesn’t block blood flow out of the left ventricle. This is referred to as non-obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The entire ventricle may thicken, or the thickening may happen only at the bottom of the heart. The right ventricle also may be affected.”

HCM is very common and affects men and women equally. Often, people who have HCM experience no warning signs or symptoms. Others may experience shortness of breath ordisruptions to the heart’s electrical system which can lead to fast or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) and may result in SCA. Although usually not fatal, HCM it often goes undetected and is the most common cause of heart-related sudden death in people under 30.

Congenital Coronary Artery Abnormalities

Occasionally people are born with unusual or abnormal heart arteries. If this occurs, arteries may become compressed during exercise and not provide adequate blood flow to the heart.

Long QT Syndrome

Long QT syndrome, caused by abnormalities of proteins in the heart, is also an inherited heart rhythm disorder that may lead to fainting and can cause life-threatening arrhythmias. People with long QT syndrome are at an increased risk for suffering from cardiac arrest. Nearly half of the individuals with long QT never exhibit a symptom of the abnormality. Although there is no cure, medication may help (SADS Foundation).

Commotio Cordis

We discussed commotio cordis at length in March, but in a nutshell, this rare cause of sudden cardiac death can occur in anyone. Because it occurs as the result of a blunt blow to the chest, which can cause ventricular fibrillation, athletes are especially susceptible. The average age of athletes who suffer from sudden cardiac arrest is just 17 and more than two-thirds of young athletes who die suddenly are basketball and football players. Baseball, softball, hockey, and lacrosse players, however, are also especially susceptible to commotio cordis.

What are the Warning Signs of Heart Problems in Young People?

Unfortunately, sudden cardiac death often occurs with no warning or indication. However, if you or your child experience dizziness or unexplained fainting during physical activity, it could be an indication that the heart isn’t working properly.  Likewise, if you or your child experience shortness of breath or chest pain, speak to your doctor immediately!

Finally, if there’s a family history of sudden cardiac death or unexplained deaths before the age of 50, you may want to discuss cardiac screening options with your physician.

Cardio Partners offers CPR, first aid, and AED training courses in all 50 states in traditional classroom settings and in blended learning courses. To learn more about our courses or to equip your facilities with an AED, call our team at 866-349-4362, visit aed.com or email Cardio Partners at customerservice@cardiopartners.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Celebrate World Heart Day on September 29!

Cardio Partners Joins the World Heart Federation in Raising Awareness for Cardiovascular Disease

We’ve devoted a lot of time talking about sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and heart attacks but cardiovascular disease (CVD) — which can lead to a heart attack or SCA — is the leading cause of death and disability in the world, killing 17.5 million people a year! That’s a third of all deaths on the planet and half of all non-communicable-disease-related deaths. Around 80% of these deaths are in low- and middle-income countries where human and financial resources are least able to address the CVD burden (World Heart Federation).

Are You at Risk for CVD?

CVD is a broad term encompassing any disease of the heart, vascular disease of the brain, or disease of the blood vessels. The most prevalent cardiovascular diseases include coronary heart disease (which and result in having a heart attack) and cerebrovascular disease (which can result in having a stroke).

Individuals who commit to controlling key risk factors such as diet, physical activity, tobacco use, cholesterol, and blood pressure may reduce their risk of CVD. Risk factors that are tougher to control include a family predisposition for CVD, diabetes, aging, gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.

Challenge Yourself to Live A Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

This year we’re committing to showing our hearts some love and we encourage you to do the same. Here are some great heart-healthy tips and recommendations to commemorate World Heart Day 2018.

Get Moving! Live a More Active Lifestyle.

In the sad but true department, many Americans spend 93 percent of their lifetimes indoors — and 70 percent of each day sitting.

For those of us who spend our days sitting behind a desk or glued to our screens (and if you’re reading this, odds are good that you’re staring at a screen while sitting down!), it’s time to get moving! Livestrong reports that people who take fewer than 5,000 steps are considered to be sedentary or inactive. Those who take 5,000 to 7,499 steps daily have a low active lifestyle. Somewhat active people usually take 7,500 to 9,999 steps per day. People considered to be active take 10,000 or more steps per day.

If you’re not counting your steps, try squeezing in 30 minutes of activity each day. Don’t feel like you need to tether yourself to the treadmill for 30 minutes! Take a 10-minute walk during your lunch break, have a 10-minute dance party with your kids, or grab a neighbor and go for a spin around the block. If you haven’t been active for a while, take it slow and begin with five or 10- minute sessions.

Just Say No to Sugar

Instead of grabbing a soda or a sugary energy drink, keep a bottle of water on your desk. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar intake to just six teaspoons per day, yet the average American consumes a whopping 19.5 teaspoons (82 grams) every day, which translates into about 66 pounds of added sugar consumed each year, per person (University of California San Francisco).

Other sneaky sources of sugar include packaged salad dressings, dried fruit, commercial smoothies, protein bars, yogurt, bread, ketchup, and bottled spaghetti sauces.

Fire Up Your Lunch

Lunchtime is an easy way to make a big difference in your diet. Simply swap out those granola bars and chips for heart-healthy snacks like fruits, nuts, and veggies. If you’re in the fast-food habit, gradually replace these heavily processed meals with a nutrient and fiber-rich lunch from home. If you don’t have the time for meal planning and shopping, or if cooking isn’t your passion, consider subscribing to a meal delivery service like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. Many of these services, such as Home Chef, even offer affordable lunch options

Get Certified

While obtaining your CPR, AED, and First Aid certifications aren’t necessarily good for the heart, they’re good for the soul…and you just might save a heart. In case you missed it, we covered What to Expect from a CPR and First Aid Course back in April.

Put out the Smoke

We saved the biggest and most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of CVD for last. If you use tobacco products, now’s the time to stop. It’s the very best thing you can do for your heart. Within just two years of quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is dramatically reduced and within 15 years of quitting, your risk of CVD returns to that of a non-smoker (World Heart Day).

Let us know how you’re going to give your heart a boost! To arrange a CPR, First Aid or AED training for your workplace or organization, call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362 or send an email to customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

10 Reasons Why AED Drills Are Important in Schools

Discover why AED drills are important and learn how to run an effective drill.

AEDs can save lives, but only if educators and administrators are prepared to take action. Tornado, fire, lockdown, and even active shooter drills are the norm for most schools across the country, but when is the last time you scheduled a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)/AED drill?

In this post, we’ll discuss the reasons why SCA/AED drills are important in schools and we’ll give you the tools you need to create an effective drill.

Why are AED Drills Important? SCA is Shockingly Common in Schools.

A couple of weeks ago, we covered the importance of AEDs in schools. However, if you’re a by-the-numbers kind of person, here are a few statistics about SCA in schools and in children under the age 18:

  1. In the United States, 1 in 25 schools experiences an SCA event each year.
  2. In 2017, 7,037 children died from cardiac arrest.
  3. Schools are community gathering places, and adults are even more likely to suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in a school setting than young adults.
  4. The hospital survival rate of students who experience SCA in a school with an AED is approximately 70%.
  5. The hospital survival rate of students who experience SCA in a school without an AED is approximately 8%.
  6. Student-athletes are more than 2 times as likely to die from SCA than non-athletes.
  7. 66% of the deaths caused by SCA in children occur during regular exercise.
  8. SCA caused by commotio cordis is the most common cause of traumatic death in youth baseball.
  9. Survival decreases an astounding 10% every minute until a defibrillator shock is applied.
  10. SCA in young people can be caused by Long QT Syndrome, commotio cordis, or congenital heart disease.

Sources: American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, Resuscitation Journal, Close the Gap, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, National Institute of Health, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

How to Run an Effective AED Drill: Create, Practice, and Review.

Developing and running effective AED drills are an essential part of your school’s emergency plan. Because the single most important contributing factor for survival of SCA is minimizing the time from collapse to defibrillation —  survival decreases an astounding 10% every minute until a shock is applied — knowing what to do and how to do it quickly may save a life of a student, parent, or school employee.

Regularly scheduled drills can test your team and your student body’s readiness and their ability to act quickly and to respond appropriately in the event of a cardiac emergency.

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation’s publication Saving Lives in Schools and Sports recommends developing and conducting practice drills for your cardiac Emergency Action Plan (EAP); it’s the best way to make sure it works! Then, once you’ve executed your drill, be sure that you conduct a detailed post-drill review so you and your team can make changes based on real-life scenarios.

Planning Your AED Drill

Here’s a convenient checklist for your annual or semi-annual AED drill:

  • Inform your team that you’ll be conducting a drill in the next week or two so they have an opportunity to review your EAP.
  • Make sure your staff is trained in adult, child, and infant CPR.
  • Choose a scenario that fits your setting.
  • Designate an observer/proctor to administer the drill.
  • Develop a drill worksheet (this worksheet should include the scenario for the drill, the time the drill commenced, when the victim was found, time the rescuer called 911, when chest compressions started, when other bystanders arrived on the scene, when the AED arrived on the scene, when AED training pads were applied, and the names of each individual performing the actions).
  • You’ll need an appropriately-sized CPR Manikin, AED trainer, AED, and a timing device.

Day of AED Drill

On the day of your school’s AED drill, your designated observer will place the CPR manikin in an appropriate, visible location. As soon as the manikin has been observed and someone has activated the EAP, the observer should note the time and read the scenario to the responders.

As soon as the responders have obtained the AED from its usual location, the observer should hand the rescuers the AED trainer to continue the drill (if possible, ask an assistant to return the emergency-ready AED to its clearly marked and accessible location). Do not use your emergency-ready AED for the drill! During this time the observer will record times and responses. If possible, the observer should take a video recording of the drill for post-drill evaluation.

After Drill Review

First, congratulate your team on a job well done! Then give everyone some time to process and think about their part in the drill. After everyone has had a day to think about how things went, bring your staff members together for a detailed analysis of your AED drill. Ask your educators what they thought went well. If possible, review the video of the drill. Ask your observer to note what the rescuers did right and what they could have been done better. Consider which parts of the drill went smoothly and which parts were more challenging.

If you make changes to your emergency action plan, be sure to communicate those changes and schedule another drill for later in the school year!

For more information about AED packages for your school or AED and CPR training, call the team at Cardio Partners and AED.com at 866-349-4362 or email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

The Importance of AEDs in Schools

10 Facts About Automated External Defibrillators in Schools

With students across the country settling in for another year of learning, now is the perfect time to discuss the importance of AEDs in schools. Last week we covered the differences in adult, child, and infant CPR as well as the pediatric chain of survival and this week we’ll cover some interesting facts and statistics about AEDs in schools.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart stops beating suddenly and unexpectedly. Often, this is caused by ventricular fibrillation (VF). VF is an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system, and when this occurs blood stops pumping to the brain, heart, and the rest of your vital organs. Bystanders who promptly begin CPR and defibrillation can keep oxygenated blood flowing throughout the body and preserve life.

Although sudden cardiac death (SCD) is shocking and leaves its mark on survivors, regardless of the age of the victim, it’s particularly tragic when school-aged children are the victims of SCD. The scars left by SCD on families, schools, and communities can be profound. Here at Cardio Partners and AED.com, we’re doing our best to raise awareness about SCA and to advocate for AEDs in the home, on the job, and in our schools.

Thousands of Children Die From Cardiac Arrest Each Year

According to the American Heart Association’s latest figures, 7,037 children die from cardiac arrest each year. When you consider that most American children spend between 175 and 180 days in school each year and receive between 900 and 1,000 hours of instructional time per year (Center for Public Education) it’s critically important for our public schools to have AEDs readily available.

SCA is Shockingly Common

It’s hard to believe, but two in fifty high schools in the United States can expect an SCA event each year.

Most States Do Not Require AEDs in Public Schools

Although Tennessee, Cardio Partners’ home state, just joined the ranks of states that require AEDs in public high schools, fewer than 20 states have enacted legislation requiring AEDs in public schools. Just nine of those states provide funding for AEDs.

AEDs in Schools Dramatically Improve the Hospital Survival Rate

The hospital survival rate of students who suffer from cardiac arrest in a school with an AED is approximately 70%, compared with only approximately 8% in the overall population of school-age children (American College of Cardiology).

Young Athletes are More Likely to Experience Sudden Cardiac Death than Non-Athletes

In the United States, a young competitive athlete dies suddenly every three days. Young athletes are more than twice as likely to experience SCD than young non-athletes (Close the Gap). The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that two-thirds of the deaths caused by SCA in children occur during exercise or activity. In fact, SCA is the leading cause of death in young athletes.

Every Second Counts

The American College of Cardiology notes that, “The most important contributing factor for survival of sudden cardiac arrest is the time from collapse to defibrillation. Survival decreases 10% every minute until a shock is applied.”

Anyone Can Use an AED

Studies indicate that students without any prior CPR or AED training can accurately use an AED as directed. AEDs are, by design, easy to use. By following an AED’s simple, clear voice prompts, bystanders can perform the crucial steps that can save a life.

The Biggest Hurdle for Many Schools is Cost

Many companies, including Cardio Partners and AED.com, offer affordable AED packages to schools. These packages may include an AED, compliance management, a wall cabinet, AED pads, a rescue-ready kit, signage, and more. CPR and AED training courses are also available.

Finding the Best Location for Your AED is Important

Your school’s AED can’t save a life if no one can find it! Finding the best placement for your AED is crucial. Locating an AED in a highly visible and public location can mean the difference between life and death.

Good Samaritan Laws Protect Bystanders

You should never be afraid to lend assistance to someone experiencing SCA. Although not all states mandate the placement of AEDs in schools, all 50 states have enacted Good Samaritan laws to protect bystanders who use an AED to resuscitate a victim of SCA.

For more information about AED packages for your school or AED and CPR training, call the team at Cardio Partners and AED.com at 866-349-4362 or email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.