Tag Archives: sudden cardiac arrest

The History of CPR and How it Works

Modern Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Isn’t All That Modern

Photo Credit: Safar Center for Resuscitation Research

Fun Fact: mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is three centuries old! Who knew? Before we dive into the fascinating history of CPR, however, we’re going to take a moment or two to talk about cardiac arrest, how CPR works, Who knew? Before we dive into the fascinating history of CPR, however, we’re going to take a moment or two to talk about cardiac arrest, how CPR works, and how something that was first analyzed in a medical publication in 1792 has evolved into modern-day CPR.

A Few Words about Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) can happen at any time. In many cases, victims may appear perfectly healthy and may not have any known pre-existing heart conditions. AED and CPR advocate Rob Seymour, who we profiled in March, is a perfect example!

Unlike a heart attack, which is caused by a blockage in an artery or vein, SCA occurs when the electrical system of the heart stops functioning. While heart attacks are often preceded by some pretty clear symptoms, SCA rarely is. If you’d like to learn more about the difference between a heart attack and SCA and their symptoms, you’re in luck — we covered that topic back in March!

According to the American Heart Association, approximately 350,000 people suffered cardiac arrest outside of a hospital in 2016. An additional 209,000 cardiac arrests occurred in a hospital setting.

People who experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital have about a 12% chance of survival. While that’s a pretty dismal statistic, the good news is that the survival rate has been increasing over the past several years. Furthermore, the chances of survival are doubled or even tripled if the victim receives CPR from a bystander—even one with no prior medical training! If that’s not enough, check out our post, 10 Reasons to Learn CPR.

The key to survival for victims of cardiac arrest is often receiving CPR immediately.

How CPR Works

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is an easy-to-learn first aid technique that can keep the victims of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) or other medical emergency alive until medical professionals can take over. Chest compressions and rescue breathing work together to keep oxygen flowing in and out of the lungs and to maintain the flow of oxygenated blood throughout the entire body.

When rescue breaths are used, the rescuer’s exhaled breath provides the victim with additional oxygen. Although we exhale carbon dioxide, there’s enough oxygen in every exhaled breath (approximately 16%) to help an SCA victim (University of Washington).

The History of CPR

1700s

In 1740, The Paris Academy of Sciences officially recommends mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for drowning victims. And 17 years later, The Society for the Recovery of Drowned Persons becomes the first organized effort to deal with sudden and unexpected death.

Dr. James Curry publishes “Popular Observations on Apparent Death from Drowning, Suffocation, Etc., with an Account of the Means to be Employed for Recovery” in 1792.

1800s

In 1892 German doctor Friedrich Maass publishes “Resuscitation Technique Following Cardiac Death after Inhalation of Chloroform” in the Berlin Clinical Weekly.

1900s

At the turn of the century, an American surgeon, Dr. George Crile, reports the first successful use of external chest compressions in human resuscitation.

In 1954 Dr. James Elam is the first to prove that expired air was sufficient to maintain adequate oxygenation. Two years later, Elam and Dr. Peter Safar are able to prove the efficacy of CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

1960s

The American Heart Association starts a program to acquaint physicians with closed-chest cardiac resuscitation. This program becomes the forerunner of CPR training for the general public.

Cardiologist Leonard Scherlis starts the American Heart Association’s CPR Committee in 1963, and later that same year, the American Heart Association formally endorses CPR.

1970s

In 1972, Leonard Cobb holds the world’s first mass citizen training in CPR in Seattle, Washington called Medic 2. He helps train over 100,000 people during the first two years of the program.

1980s

Now considered common practice by 911 operators, a program to provide telephone instructions for CPR begins in King County, Washington.

1990s

Early Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) programs are developed to provide training and resources to the public to improve bystander assistance rates and to increase the successful resuscitation of cardiac arrest victims.

2000s

The American Heart Association (AHA) and International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) releases a statement regarding the use of AEDs on children. It is determined that an AED may be used for children one to eight years of age who have no signs of circulation.

In 2008, the AHA releases a statement about Hands-Only™ CPR, saying that bystanders who witness the sudden collapse of an adult should dial 911 and provide high-quality chest compressions by pushing hard and fast in the middle of the victim’s chest.

SOURCES: American Heart Association, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, European Resuscitation Journal

For the full scoop on CPR or AEDs, CPR and AED Training, or to purchase an AED, visit AED.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About CPR and AEDs

What is CPR? What Are AEDs? We Have the Answers!

Coming off the heels of a heart-pounding CPR and AED Awareness week, we realized that although we had a great time with our CPR Songs: Greatest Hits to Save Lives, it might be wise to share some general information about CPR and AEDs.

Because it’s impossible to teach you everything you need to know about CPR and AEDs in the space of a blog, we’re happy to share the top 10 things you need to know about the life-saving procedure and device. For everything you need to know, sign up for a CPR and AED training class today!

5 Things You Need to Know About CPR:

What is CPR?

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is an easy-to-learn first aid technique that can keep the victims of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) or other medical emergency alive until medical professionals can take over.

What Does CPR Do?

CPR keeps blood pumping through the body, which helps maintain vital organ function. CPR has two primary goals: to keep oxygen flowing in and out of the lungs and to keep oxygenated blood flowing throughout the entire body.

Anyone Can Learn CPR

Although real-life doctors (and the actors who just play them on TV) perform CPR professionally, CPR training is easy and anyone can do it. With more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occurring each and every year, amateurs are welcome!

In many instances, “blended” courses allow busy folks to complete the text-based portion of the course online at their own pace and convenience. Once you’ve passed the online course, a focused 3-4 hour hands-on skills workshop rounds out the training. Wondering what you’ll learn in a CPR or First Aid class? Read our post on the subject!

CPR Can Be Tiring

Performing CPR can be physically demanding. High-performing CPR requires 100-120 deep and steady compressions per minute, so head to the gym and start working on your upper body strength and cardio! Take AED.com CPR playlist with you, while you’re at it! Should you be called upon to perform CPR in an emergency, you may find yourself getting tired, so if possible switch off with another person every couple of minutes.

Hands-Only CPR is Effective

Hands-only CPR (also known as compression-only CPR) is CPR without rescue breaths. The American Heart Association has noted that “Hands-only CPR carried out by a bystander has been shown to be as effective as CPR with breaths in the first few minutes during an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest for an adult victim.”

5 Things You Need to Know About AEDs:

What is an AED?

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a small, portable medical device. When its pads are attached to a person’s chest, the AED can analyze an individual’s heart rhythm and deliver a shock, if necessary, to restart his or her heart. Bystanders, as well as medical professionals, can use AEDs.

How Does an AED Work?

The device works by measuring an unresponsive person’s heart rhythm and delivering a shock to restart the heart or to shock the heart back into the correct rhythm. After analyzing the heart rhythm, automated voice instructions and text prompts tell the rescuer how to proceed. If defibrillation is necessary, the device will warn responders to stay clear of the victim while the shock is delivered. If CPR is indicated, the AED will instruct the rescuer to continue performing CPR.

When Do I Use an AED?

Sudden cardiac arrest can occur anytime, anywhere, and without warning. Call 911 and get the AED if someone becomes suddenly unresponsive, stops breathing, or does not respond when you tap or shake the shoulder firmly and ask, “Are you OK?”

Where Can I Find an AED?

Although laws for the placement of AEDs vary, many states require AEDs in public areas like gyms, schools, sports stadiums, and community centers. AEDs should be kept in a well-marked and publicly accessible location. If you don’t know where your office or workplace keeps the AED, find out! You never know when you might be called upon to use it.

If AEDs Are So Easy To Use, Why Do I Need Training?

Not only will training teach you how to respond quickly in the event of a cardiac emergency, but you’ll also learn how to activate the EMS system and act with confidence. Training also provides hands-on familiarity with an AED and teaches you how to avoid potentially dangerous situations.

For the full scoop on purchasing an AED, CPR and AED Training, and AED Compliance Management, download our free AED Starters Guide. Have questions? We’d love to chat! Call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

CPR Songs: Greatest Hits to Save Lives

Cardio Partners Salutes CPR and AED Awareness Week With CPR Playlist

Happy CPR and AED Awareness week! Here at Cardio Partners, we’re supporting and promoting this important week with a curated Spotify playlist just for you! All of the songs on our Greatest Hits to Save Lives have a lifesaving tempo of 100 to 120 beats per minute, which is perfect for performing chest compressions during CPR. From Queen Bey to Queen, our playlist has a little something for everyone.

5 Fast Facts About Sudden Cardiac Arrest and CPR

Before we dive into some fun musical trivia, here are a few facts about sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

Fact 1: You Nearly Gave Me a Heart Attack Isn’t Accurate

Did you know that cardiac arrest and heart attacks aren’t the same thing? SCA occurs when an electrical malfunction in the heart causes an arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) and disrupts the flow of blood to the brain and other vital organs. A heart attack occurs when a blockage in an artery prevents the flow of blood to your heart.

So the next time your troublemaking teen sneaks up on you and scares you half to death, instead of “You nearly gave me a heart attack!” try out “I nearly had a cardiac arrest, kid!”

Fact 2: It Takes Less Than a Minute to Learn How to Save a Life

While it takes more than a decade to become a doctor, did you know that compression-only or hands-only CPR takes just a minute to learn and just may save someone’s life? Check out NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital’s simple 30-second, three-step video:

  • Step 1: Check the Victim

Check to see if the victim is responsive but tapping firming on his shoulders and checking for signs of breathing. If you don’t see any indications of life, get moving!

  • Step 2: Call 911

Call 911 immediately.

  • Step 3: Compress

Begin chest compressions. Interlock your fingers and use the heel of your palm to press down on the center of the center of the chest at a rate of two compressions per second.

Fact 3: Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a Leading Cause of Death

Unless you live in Montana, the odds of getting hit by lightning are just about one in a million. Between 2001 and 2010, an average of 280 lightning deaths and injuries were reported each year. Yet the moment we see a flash of lightning we know what to do: we wisely run for cover!

In stark contrast, there are more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year and 90% of these are fatal. Only 46% of the people who suffer an out-of-hospital SCA receive the immediate help they need before EMS teams arrive on the scene. Would you know what to do? If not, learn CPR!

Fact 4: You Can Change the Statistics

While it’s demoralizing to learn that 90% of the people who suffer from an SCA die and 70% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the home, it doesn’t help anyone to be fatalistic about it. Change the statistics! Learn CPR.

According to the American Heart Association, CPR (especially if performed immediately) can double or even triple a person’s chance for survival.

Fact 5: Our “Greatest Hits to Save Lives” Playlist is Great for the Gym

Look, we really, really hope that you’re not the kind of person who’s going to cue up our playlist before starting CPR on someone. That would be bad. So plug those earbuds in, start your warmup, and get your Body Movin’.

A Few Fun Facts About Our CPR Playlist

Fact 1: “Cecilia,” By Simon and Garfunkel, Was Banned in Malawi

Apparently, the Malawi Censorship Board wasn’t too pleased the song’s titular heroine, whose name was the same as President Banda’s “Official Hostess” (FileRoom).

Fact 2: “Girls Just Wanna’ Have Fun” Was First Recorded by a Man

Believe it or not, Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 breakthrough hit was written and first recorded by Robert Hazard in 1979 (Wikipedia).

Fact 3: “Crazy in Love” is Bey and Jay’s Only Chart-Topping Collaboration

While they may seemingly rule the universe, “Crazy in Love” is the power couple’s only #1 hit single (Forbes).

TN Lawmakers Pass AED Legislation

New Tennessee Law Requires AEDs and AED Training for School Personnel

Tennessee state lawmakers recently passed legislation that requires automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in all public high schools. It also encourages districts to equip middle and elementary schools with them as well. The new legislation, which is currently awaiting Governor Haslam’s signature, also provides funding for public high schools that are unable to afford the devices.

The bill was backed by Rhonda Harrill, an East Tennessee mother who lost her son in 2009 to cardiac arrhythmia. According to a segment that aired on Blount County’s 10News in 2016, Tanner, her athletic and active son, had told his basketball coach that he wasn’t feeling well and took a seat on the bench. Just moments later the 13-year-old suffered a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and collapsed.

Although Tanner’s coach immediately began CPR and a bystander quickly called 911, the young athlete was pronounced dead less than an hour after his collapse. Later, an autopsy revealed that he suffered from a condition called Long-QT syndrome, which can cause fast and chaotic heartbeats, fainting, seizures, and as in Tanner’s case, sudden death.

In the nine years that have passed since her son’s death, Tanner’s mother has been advocating for AED legislation. Last month, Knox News reported that Harrill “First fought for a bill to require AED placement in schools across the state, then for training and AED drills to keep teachers and older high school students trained up on the lifesaving devices. The new bill, which still needs to be signed by the governor to become law, provides funding for schools who cannot afford AEDs to purchase them.”

Many companies, including Cardio Partners and AED.com, offer affordable AED packages for schools, helping ensure that students, teachers, and community members are protected. 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.

Why AEDs Are Important

Harrill believes an AED could have saved her son’s life.

“[I] had heard of AEDs, didn’t know if the school had one,” she said in the interview with 10News. “They did, but it was locked up in the office, and it was behind a mailbox where teachers get their mail. You would have never known it was there.”

Tennessee’s new law marks a huge step forward in school heart safety. The American Heart Association reports that 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States each year! Tragically, more than 7,000 youth under the age of 18 experience SCA annually (Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation). AEDs in schools can help save lives by restoring normal heart rhythms in individuals who have suffered a cardiac arrest.

While these automated devices are easy to use, annual AED training can increase user confidence and efficiency.

Furthermore, finding the best location for AED placement is critically important. Placing an AED in a highly visible and public location can mean the difference between life and death. Although Tanner’s school had an AED, it wasn’t located in the gym, where the likelihood of SCA is the highest. Not only that, but the device wasn’t even accessible to the general public.

When this bill is signed by Governor Haslam, Tennessee will join a growing number of states that have passed legislation that requires or recommends AEDs in schools. For more information about AED legislation, we encourage you to read our recent post, An Overview of State AED Laws and Recommendations.

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.

What Will I Learn From a CPR or First Aid Class?

What to Expect from Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and First Aid Certification Courses

In this post we’ll preview some of the topics commonly covered, so you’ll know what to look forward to when you take the CPR/First Aid plunge. Depending on the course you take, you’ll learn CPR skills (which covers CPR for all ages, AED & choking), CPR for adults, and/or CPR for children. First Aid covers common scenarios including: bleeding, burns, poisoning, shock, and respiratory emergencies.

We’ll break it down for you in more detail, but in a nutshell, you’ll leave your CPR and First Aid classes with the knowledge, skills, experience, and confidence you need to help save a life.

Knowledge: What You Need to Know About CPR and First Aid

Today, many courses are “blended,” which means a substantial portion of the instruction occurs online. However, traditional, instructor-led training which allows participants to complete the coursework in one setting may is also available for large groups or corporate settings. Either way, once you’ve completed the required lessons and passed the accompanying skills, you’ll complete your certification with hands-on, in-person training.

Topics include how to identify sudden cardiac arrest, understanding the links in the chain of survival; the qualities of high performance CPR; the importance of personal safety and standard precautions; the steps to assess an unresponsive person; how to use an AED on an adult, child, or infant; how to place an unresponsive but breathing person in the recovery position; and how to recognize and provide treatment for a choking adult, child, or infant.  

As part of your First Aid Certification, you’ll first learn what your role as a provider is. As with CPR training, you’ll also learn how to recognize an emergency, why it’s important to offer to help, how to move an injured person safely and effectively, and the importance of standard precautions and protective barriers. You’ll also learn how to conduct primary assessments on responsive and unresponsive individuals which will, in turn, help you determine the best form of treatment.  

Skills: What You Need to Do as a CPR or First Aid Provider

Once you’ve acquired some basic CPR and First Aid knowledge, you’ll dive into the specific skills needed to perform both CPR and First Aid.

You’ll learn to perform one-person CPR, CPR with rescue breaths, Hands Only CPR, how to administer CPR as part of a 2 rescuer team, and how to administer a shock from an AED. You’ll also learn how to perform CPR on adults, children, and infants. It’s worth noting that CPR-only courses may cover adults only or infants and children. Be sure to sign up for the course that’s right for you!

Your First Aid course work will cover how to control bleeding; what to do in the event of a head, neck or back injury; how to assess and treat injuries to limbs; how to respond to burns; how to treat minor injuries; how to identify and assess altered mental status; what to do in the event someone is experiencing breathing difficulty or shortness of breath; how to respond to chest pain, severe pressure, or chest discomfort; best steps for treating a victim of poisoning; and how to respond to environmental emergencies such as hypothermia or heat stroke.

Experience: Putting CPR and First Aid Lessons into Practice

Textbook, classroom, and online learning is great, but there’s nothing like hands-on training to reinforce your coursework. As part of your CPR training, you’ll have the opportunity to practice CPR with rescue breathing, AED use, and working as part of a 2 rescuer team.

Your instructor will also review your First Aid knowledge, taking you through the steps you’ve already learned to control bleeding, Epi Pen use, patient assessment, and more.

Confidence: Being Ready to Help (While Understanding Your Limitations)

Although you’ll gain the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to help someone in need, you’ll also learn about your boundaries and the limits of your abilities. Knowing what you can and cannot do is a huge part of building confidence. As a CPR/First Aid provider, your job is to help someone who is ill and injured and to keep them safe until more advanced medical treatment arrives. That’s it!

As an authorized Training Center, Cardio Partners and AED.com provides high quality and consistent training courses across the United States. Our courses are offered through the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association. For more information about blended or traditional CPR and First Aid training, call our team at 866-349-4362 or email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

Your Reasons for Not Learning CPR Probably Aren’t Valid

Getting Your CPR and First Aid Certification is Easier than You Think

As a young athlete, I looked on anxiously as my coach responded confidently and calmly when a teammate collapsed from heat exhaustion and dehydration. I watched my mother howl in pain after being shot in the toe by a reveler’s stray New Year’s Eve bullet (true story). Although I had no real clue how to perform it, I steeled myself for the Heimlich when I watched my daughter inhale her first fish taco at an unsightly speed.

Over the years, I’ve stanched countless bloody noses and assessed minor sprains and major bruises, each time wondering, “Am I doing this correctly?”

Still, to my embarrassment, I never managed to take the plunge and sign up for a CPR and First Aid class.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably thought about getting your CPR and First Aid certifications but just never quite got around to it. Recently, however, I started writing for Cardio Partners. Over the past few months I’ve written posts with titles like “10 Reasons Why You Should Learn CPR” and “The Importance of CPR and AEDs: A Survivor’s Story” and found myself feeling increasingly unqualified to encourage others to sign up for CPR when I, myself, had yet to get certified.

So I decided to do something about it. A couple of weeks ago, I found myself as the lone writer in a small group of amiable YMCA of Middle Tennessee employees, compressing a steady rhythm on the chest of a well-used CPR manikin as my partners held the oxygen mask over its face, counted to 30, delivered rescue breaths, and prepared the AED to administer its life-saving shock.

Two and a half hours later, I was the proud holder of Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers, Basic First Aid, and Emergency Oxygen certification cards.

I Don’t Have the Time to Take a CPR Class!

Sound familiar? After discovering that “blended” classes incorporating online training with in-person live skills sessions were offered at my local Y, I realized that my biggest excuse was no longer valid.

Within moments of registering for the course, I received an email from the instructor with a link to the online portion of the course. Initially, I was a bit daunted by the sheer number of lessons required — I opted to become certified not only in CPR/AED, but also in Basic First Aid and Emergency Oxygen administration and had 46 lessons to complete and 3 exams to pass.

I soon discovered, however, that the lessons were short, easy-to-follow, and well-constructed.

Each lesson built nicely upon the one that preceded it and I found myself well-prepared to ace each of the three online exams.

Conveniently, I was able to complete the course in stages and at my own pace. Although it took me five days and a total of four hours to complete, I’m sure that quicker studies than myself could do so in a single session in as little as three hours.

I’m Waaaay Too Squeamish to Take a First Aid Course!

Yup. That’s me. I’m the person in the movie theater who covers her eyes and plugs her ears and whispers, “Is it over yet? Can I look?”

If I survived, you’re going to be just fine.

The videos are predictably staged, the blood is clearly fake, and the burns are obviously of the latex variety. Yeah, you’ll cringe a time or two, but you’ll make it.

I’m the Last Person You’d Want Performing CPR or First Aid!

Prior to completing the course, I’d have to say that statement fit me pretty well. Now that I’m far more confident in my abilities (while still being well aware of my limitations) I’d say that you could do worse than having me by your side in an emergency.

Michelle Mattox, a CPR/AED/First Aid/O2 Instructor at the Margaret Maddox Family YMCA in Nashville has certified hundreds of people over the years and says that she’s gotten a ton of positive feedback from her students, “It’s more effective when people take an online and in-person class because they get a chance to see it, hear it, and be taught the basics at their own pace and then in the class they can really focus on their skills and getting it right. It’s easier to digest that way. Pretty much everybody that I’ve talked to tells me that they feel more confident and that they know what to do.”

CPR Training is Too Expensive!

Costs may vary from provider to provider, but let me assure you, it’s quite reasonable. I recommend checking out the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or your local YMCA for an affordable course near you. Or, to arrange a training for your workplace or organization, call Cardio Partners or AED.com at 866-349-4362 or send an email to customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

Char Vandermeer is a freelance copywriter based in Nashville, TN. When she’s not writing she enjoys reading, gardening, kayaking, and soaking up the sunshine with her family.

What’s the Difference Between a Heart Attack and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Is it a Heart Attack or Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

If you haven’t put much thought into the difference between a heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), don’t feel too bad! Many people believe that a heart attack and SCA are the same thing and commonly use the terms interchangeably.

In a nutshell, a heart attack is a circulation problem and cardiac arrest is an electrical problem. Although individuals who have suffered a heart attack are more likely to experience SCA, the two cardiac events are very different! To improve survival odds, it’s important to gain a deeper understanding of the key differences between a heart attack and SCA.

What is a Heart Attack?

During a heart attack, an artery becomes clogged and cannot carry adequate oxygen to the heart. In many cases, the heart continues to beat normally but if the blockage is not quickly resolved, parts of the cardiac muscle will begin to die. Like all muscles, your heart requires oxygen-rich blood for survival. The longer a heart attack goes on without treatment, the greater the damage to the muscle.

Comedian, actor, filmmaker, and former convenience store clerk Kevin Smith (@ThatKevenSmith) made headlines last month by tweeting, “After the first show this evening, I had a massive heart attack. The Doctor who saved my life told me I had 100% blockage of my LAD artery (aka “the Widow-Maker”). If I hadn’t canceled show 2 to go to the hospital, I would’ve died tonight. But for now, I’m still above ground!”

Health.com notes that, “Recovery from a heart attack typically involves medications, changes in diet and exercise habits, and sometimes surgery. Happily, less than a month after his cardiac scare, Smith was back on Twitter announcing that he’d lost 20 pounds and that his blood pressure was “amazing.”

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

According to the Library of Congress, the heart is the hardest working muscle in the body. It pumps out two ounces of blood at every heartbeat. Each day, your heart pumps at least 2,500 gallons of blood! And if you live into your 80s, your heart will have beaten more than three billion times. That’s one hard-charging muscle, so return the favor by paying attention to the signals your heart may be sending you.

If you know what to look for, you may even be able to prevent a heart attack from occurring. Symptoms can occur hours, days, and even weeks before a heart attack. The most common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting
  • Jaw, neck, or back pain
  • Discomfort or pain in arm or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath

Women may experience these symptoms differently than men. Even though heart disease is the number-one killer of women in the United States, women often fail to identify their symptoms as warning signs of a heart attack.

“‘Although men and women can experience chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure,’ said Nieca Goldberg, M.D., medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center and an American Heart Association volunteer. ‘Instead they may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue’” (American Heart Association).

The key takeaway: listen to your body and don’t hesitate to seek medical help should you experience any of these symptoms.

What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Unlike a heart attack, SCA can occur with little or no warning, as it did for SCA survivor Rob Seymour. SCA occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. Symptoms are immediate and dire: sudden loss of consciousness/responsiveness, lack of breathing, and no pulse. During a cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating and the organs of the body are deprived of oxygen.

When the heart stops beating, death can occur within minutes.

SCA can be caused by any number of events such as ventricular fibrillation, a sudden blow to the chest, electrocution, drowning, drug abuse, cardiomyopathy, and hypothermia. Cardiac arrest can be reversible if it’s treated in the first few minutes with CPR and by using an AED on the victim.

What You Can Do

If you witness someone suffering from a possible heart attack or SCA, call 911 immediately. The operator may be able to help you administer compression-only CPR to the victim. If possible, ask a bystander to locate an AED. To become even better equipped to respond in the event of a cardiac emergency, sign up for a first aid and CPR course. You never know when your actions could help save a life.

Get certified today. Cardio Partners and aed.com offer CPR, First Aid, AED, and bloodborne pathogen training courses in all 50 states in traditional classroom settings and in blended learning courses. To learn more about our courses or to schedule a training, call our team at 866-349-4362 or email Cardio Partners at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.