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Would you know what to do in a cardiac emergency?

cardiac GETTYKnowing what to do when a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs can literally mean the difference between saving someone’s life, and having them die in your arms.  While everyone responds differently under stress, having basic life saving skills can help you focus in a time of crisis and initiate life saving procedures.  According to the American Heart Association, 70 percent of Americans feel helpless when a sudden cardiac arrest occurs because they don’t know how to do CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). The AHA reports that each year 294, 851 sudden cardiac arrests occur outside of hospitals in the United States.  This alarming statistic could hit close to home since about 80 percent of sudden cardiac arrests occur in the victim’s home.

What is CPR? Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is an emergency procedure that is performed on a person who suffers a sudden cardiac arrest (their heart stops suddenly).  The purpose of CPR is to provide the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain until other procedures can be performed to restore the person’s normal heartbeat and breathing.  The main action taken in performing CPR is called chest compressions, which involves pressing firmly and quickly on the center of a person’s chest.  Experts say that compressions should be done at a rate of 100 per minute.  When possible, CPR also involves making sure that the person’s airway is clear of obstruction and supplying air to the person’s lungs; either by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or by using a special device that can blow air into the person’s mouth.

For victims of sudden cardiac arrest, only one thing is certain, chest compressions will be required.  Yet manual compressions, even when done correctly, only provide 10 to 20 percent of normal blood flow to the heart and 30 to 40 percent to the brain.  In recent years, Zoll Medical Corporation saw the need for a more effective method to perform CPR.  Along with Revivant, they developed the Zoll AutoPulse, a non-invasive cardiac support pump.  The AutoPulse is an automated, portable, battery powered device which performs CPR in a much more effective manner.

To date there have been several documented cases where the use of CPR or the AutoPulse have helped to successfully revive a person who has suffered sudden cardiac arrest.  According to the National Institute of Health, 46 patients were resuscitated with the AutoPulse from September 2004 to May 2005.  In recent months, it was used to resuscitate a 39 year old man from Victoria, Australia who had been dead for approximately 40 to 60 minutes.

Whether it is manual CPR, or the AutoPulse, I strongly believe it is important to effectively learn what to do should you be faced with a sudden cardiac arrest.  The American Heart Association and the Red Cross have monthly, low cost classes in English and in Spanish.  Log on to find the closest one to you, or www.redcross.organd be a proactive member of your community.

By Being Latino Contributor, Maria G. Rodriguez, RN, BSN, CHHC,

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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