Home » Cardiology

Category Archives: Cardiology

Disaster Preparedness, Part 1: The New CPR

By: John Hedtke & Maurice Ramirez, Clifton Castleman

When cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was invented in the 1970s, the goal was to train as many potential bystanders as possible to help if someone had a heart attack or choked in public. In an effort to educate everyone about the importance of learning basic chest compression and the Heimlich maneuver, even Hollywood got in on the act, incorporating the practices into movie and TV storylines. As a result of great marketing, virtually everyone knows what CPR is, and hundreds of thousands of people are trained to do it. (more…)

The Top Ten Myths about Heart Disease

How much do you really know about your heart’s health? It’s easy to be fooled by misconceptions. After all, heart disease only happens to your elderly neighbor or to your fried food-loving uncle, right? Or do you know the real truth – that heart disease can affect people of any age, even those who eat right?

Relying on false assumptions can be dangerous to your heart. Cardiovascular disease kills more Americans each year than any other disease. But you can boost your heart smarts by separating fact from fiction. Let’s set the record straight on some common myths.

- ONE -
“I’m too young to worry about heart disease.”

How you live now affects your risk for cardiovascular diseases later in life. As early as childhood and adolescence, plaque can start accumulating in the arteries and later lead to clogged arteries. One in three Americans has cardiovascular disease, but not all of them are senior citizens. Even young and middle-aged people can develop heart problems – especially now that obesity, type 2 diabetes and other risk factors are becoming more common at a younger age.

- TWO -
“I’d know if I had high blood pressure because there would be warning signs.”

High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because you don’t usually know you have it. You may never experience symptoms, so don’t wait for your body to alert you that there’s a problem. The way to know if you have high blood pressure is to check your numbers with a simple blood pressure test. Early treatment of high blood pressure is critical because, if left untreated, it can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other serious health problems.

“I’ll know when I’m having a heart attack because I’ll have chest pain.”

Not necessarily. Although it’s common to have chest pain or discomfort, a heart attack may cause subtle symptoms. These include shortness of breath, nausea, feeling lightheaded, and pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, neck or back. Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. Learn you risk of heart attack today!

- FOUR -
“Diabetes won’t threaten my heart as long as I take my medication.”

Treating diabetes can help reduce your risk for or delay the development of cardiovascular diseases. But even when blood sugar levels are under control, you’re still at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. That’s because the risk factors that contribute to diabetes onset also make you more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. These overlapping risk factors include high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, physical inactivity and smoking.

- FIVE -
“Heart disease runs in my family, so there’s nothing I can do to prevent it.”

Although people with a family history of heart disease are at higher risk, you can take steps to dramatically reduce your risk. Create an action plan to keep your heart healthy by tackling these to-dos: get active; control cholesterol; eat better; manage blood pressure; maintain a healthy weight; control blood sugar; and stop smoking.

- SIX -
“I don’t need to have my cholesterol checked until I’m middle-aged.”

The American Heart Association recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked at age 20. It’s a good idea to start having a cholesterol test even earlier if your family has a history of heart disease. Children in these families can have high cholesterol levels, putting them at increased risk for developing heart disease as adults. You can help yourself and your family by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

“Heart failure means the heart stops beating.”

The heart suddenly stops beating during cardiac arrest, not heart failure. With heart failure, the heart keeps working, but it doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. It can cause shortness of breath, swelling in the feet and ankles or persistent coughing and wheezing. During cardiac arrest, a person loses consciousness and stops normal breathing.

“This pain in my legs must be a sign of aging. I’m sure it has nothing to do with my heart.”

Leg pain felt in the muscles could be a sign of a condition called peripheral artery disease. PAD results from blocked arteries in the legs caused by plaque buildup. The risk for heart attack or stroke increases five-fold for people with PAD.

“My heart is beating really fast. I must be having a heart attack.”
Some variation in your heart rate is normal. Your heart rate speeds up during exercise or when you get excited, and slows down when you’re sleeping. Most of the time, a change in your heartbeat is nothing to worry about. But sometimes, it can be a sign of arrhythmia, an abnormal or irregular heartbeat. Most arrhythmias are harmless, but some can last long enough to impact how well the heart works and require treatment.

- TEN -

“I should avoid exercise after having a heart attack.”

No! As soon as possible, get moving with a plan approved for you! Research shows that heart attack survivors who are regularly physically active and make other heart-healthy changes live longer than those who don’t. People with chronic conditions typically find that moderate-intensity activity is safe and beneficial. The American Heart Association recommends at least two and a half hours of moderate intensity physical activity each week. Find the help you need by joining a cardiac rehabilitation program, or consult your healthcare provider for advice on developing a physical activity plan tailored to your needs.

Hands-Only CPR: The How, Why, and Does it Work?

By Clif Castleman, WEMT & American Red Cross Instructor

My thoughts as a medical professional (and by the way, these protocols have already become effective in Loudoun County, Virginia), are that overall, it makes sense, however you’re only supposed to provide chest compressions for the first two minutes after arriving on the scene where somebody has collapsed and you witnessed them collapse then switch over to providing “traditional” CPR. The order of things is a bit of a lie; because first things first, you still have to check the scene for safety, then check the victim to see if they’re responsive; if so, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency response number. Only then should you begin to do chest compressions.

After two minutes of chest-compressions-only have been done, both the American Heart Association and American Red Cross state that you then need to go into “traditional” CPR with 30 chest compressions and two breaths. This is because there is enough residual oxygen in your bloodstream and vital organs, however after roughly two minutes, that residual oxygen is used up, and must be replaced with new fresh oxygen. Remember, the air we breathe contains roughly 21% oxygen and when we breathe it in, our body uses only about 5% of that, exhaling 16% oxygen – which is way more than enough for another human being to utilize.

The real key to all of this is the Automated External Defibrillator, or AED. The AED is designed to shock the heart back into an effective rhythm. The sooner an AED is brought to the aide of a person who has collapsed and is completely unresponsive – even to painful stimuli such as a sternal “noogie” or a hard pinch on the back of their arm – the better chance that person has of being successfully revived. If you find yourself in a situation where you just saw the individual collapse, have checked for scene safety, checked them for responsiveness, and have called 9-1-1 – and there’s an AED in the building but no one else to go get it, GO GET THE AED FIRST and don’t worry about the two minutes of compressions, because literally speaking, the chest compressions are only pumping somewhat oxygenated blood to the vital organs long enough for an AED to restart the heart on its own.

AEDs to be Registered by US DoH

We figured that it would only be a matter of time before the US Department of Health would require all AEDs to be registered. For the past few years, there has been much talk of this, and has been recommended up to this point, but never actually enforced. The DoH has however started to require a physician’s prescription as of 2010.

This new effort will be great to finally get more accurate statistics on AED usage, numbers, etc.

For more information and  to register your AED, please visit the official Department of Health AED Registration page, located here.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 835 other followers