While we never tire of promoting the modern miracle of the automated external defibrillator (AED) and its use by trained bystanders, I wanted to talk a bit today about some other heart-related topics. All in honor of Heart Month, while we still have a little February left to go.
Heart health — What you can do to improve yours?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services began the Million Hearts® initiative in 2011 “to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.” Organizations from the public and private sectors, along with other federal government agencies, got on board and threw their weight and influence behind the educational campaign that centers on some “ABCs” that can lead to a healthier heart:
- Aspirin to prevent heart attacks for people who need it
- Blood pressure control
- Cholesterol management
- Quitting Smoking
It’s nothing that most savvy health-conscious folks haven’t heard before, but here’s an important spotlight that Million Hearts partner the National Consumers League wants to shine with their Script Your Future program—
Those "blood pressure control" and "cholesterol management" efforts depend on us taking our medications as prescribed and following our treatment regimes. If your doctor has prescribed medications to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), it’s important that you stick with them consistently and as directed. The use of statins is a typical treatment protocol and Script Your Future put together a reminder video for those patients of how and why consistency with such medications is key.
If you have concerns or issues with your statin regimen, be sure to work with your medical team to find the solution instead of simply stopping your medication.
Heart attack vs. SCA — Know the difference
I know our emergency care instructor readers will want me to offer a quick reminder here that we’ve been talking about heart attacks, not sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) incidents. What’s the difference? It’s a big one, and the SCA Foundation uses some memorable imagery to help us keep them straight:
“HEART ATTACK: A ‘PLUMBING PROBLEM’ —
The Person is Awake and the Heart is Beating
Heart attack (the medical term is myocardial infarction or MI) occurs when part of the heart’s blood supply is reduced or blocked, causing the heart muscle to become injured or die. The person is awake (conscious) and may complain of one or more of the signs and symptoms of heart attack.
SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST: ‘AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM’ —
The Person is Not Awake and the Heart is Not Beating
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is different from heart attack. While heart attack is described as a “plumbing problem,” SCA is more of an “electrical problem” that prevents the heart from functioning effectively. Heart attack can lead to SCA, but there are many other causes, such as congenital abnormalities, severe heart failure, electrocution and drug overdose.”
CPR is not the response for a patient whose heart is beating. As the SCA Foundation says, “Instead, the correct action is to call 9-1-1 immediately to get emergency medical services (EMS) on the way to help. The sooner the person is treated, the better the outcome.”
For SCA, that lifesaving combination of CPR and an AED is the way to go. After all, you wouldn’t fix a broken electrical socket with an elbow pipe any more than you would stop a leaky faucet by laying in some new wiring, right?
Our hearts work very hard for us — show them a little love by taking excellent care of yours and getting some simple, lifesaving training to help someone else’s in an emergency.