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CPR – Learn it, know it


CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation – you all know it well. Yes, you do; at least you can recognize it on TV and the movies all the time. The scene: somebody is passed out on the ground, and another person gives the passed-out person some breaths, and then starts pumping on his/her chest.{{more}} Remember now? Some of you may have had this teaching in your first aid class somewhere, possibly as part of the Red Cross.

This week I am making a plea for you all to learn CPR. No, I am not kidding. Why would I learn this, you may ask, when all we need is someone medical to show up and do it?

The answer is simple: in the time you are standing around waiting for “someone medical” to show up, the person on the ground may die. And yes, your performing CPR can save this person’s life. I chose to discuss this now, because sudden cardiac arrest, the ultimate and worst sign of heart disease, kills a significant percentage of people every year. In the United States almost half million people every year have a sudden cardiac arrest, and most of them die. Sudden cardiac arrest is basically the heart ceasing to function properly at all, likely because of an abnormal heartbeat or a massive heart attack, causing the walls of the heart to stop beating. In some cases it is immediately fatal and irreversible, meaning nothing can be done to reverse it. However, in some cases, such as those with abnormal heart rhythms, CPR can extend the time period where the person can be revived with medical help.

I cannot teach you CPR through this article. You will need to attend a class to learn the proper way to perform this lifesaving technique. All first aid classes can teach this, as do many hospitals, and some swimming classes. If you can’t find a class, talk to a friend in the medical field and ask to be taught CPR.

A few things to know:

1) The current recommendations for CPR put more stress on performing the chest compressions (pumping up and down on the chest wall) rather than the mouth-to-mouth part where you give breaths. I know many of you are wary of the mouth-to-mouth part, and this is understandable. As it turns out, the pumping on the chest encourages the heart to keep pushing blood throughout the body, and may be more important than the mouth-to-mouth breaths. So, if you are willing to perform both the breaths and chest compressions it is of course best, but if you feel strange about the mouth-to-mouth, just do the chest compressions. It will still help.

2) You need to start CPR immediately, and it will not hurt if you do it unnecessarily. Yes, there is some physical discomfort with pushing on someone’s chest. But overall, in terms of doing harm to the person, it is a bigger mistake to NOT do the chest compressions if it turns out you need them, than to do the compressions even if the person does not need them. When in doubt, start compressions.

Check into taking a class. It does not take long to learn basic CPR, and it truly may save someone’s life in future.

Until next week, stay safe and healthy Vincies!

Anita Ramsetty, MD
Medical Director Endocrine Care Group
Tel: 843-798-4227