All posts by Sonia Thalman

Join Cardio Partners for the Great American Smokeout on November 15

Be inspired to quit. Make today the day for a healthier you.

Although the numbers of American adults who smoke recently hit its lowest point since the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) began tracking smoking statistics in 1965 (American Cancer Society), 34.3 million adults in the United States still smoked cigarettes in 2017 and 47.4 million people used some type of tobacco product. Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the country. An estimated 480,000 American adults die from cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke exposure every year (American Cancer Society).

Cigarette smoking is a known risk factor for sudden cardiac death, and here at Cardio Partners and AED.com we’re all about reducing the number of Americans who die from cardiac arrest each year. Whether we accomplish that by advocating for CPR Training, AED Drills in schools, urging early screening for cardiovascular risk factors, or supporting great causes like the Great American Smokeout, we’re all in.

While the numbers are stunning and the health benefits are undeniable, statistics and scare tactics alone are rarely enough to convince a smoker to quit. Certainly, quitting smoking is the right move, but as any former smoker will tell you, it’s really hard to do.  

So make November 15 the day you do it. The Great American Smokeout is the perfect opportunity to seek the counseling and support you need to succeed. The American Cancer Society notes that finding the right support or getting help through medications may double or even triple your chance of quitting successfully.

Quitting Smoking is Hard. Make a Plan.

Nicotine addiction is one of the strongest and deadliest additions. Quitting smoking takes dedication, endurance, self-control, and perhaps most importantly, a plan. The American Cancer Society encourages smokers to speak to their pharmacist or physician to come up with a strategy that’s right for them based on their daily nicotine intake and lifestyle.

Find the Resources and Support that Work for You

Some may prefer to gradually taper off their cigarette intake while others may have a better chance for success by quitting cold turkey. Some may prefer to quit with a friend while others may prefer the help of an app. Regardless of your preferences, there’s plenty of research that shows that smokers are most successful in their cessation efforts when they have several different support options, such as:

How to Manage Cigarette Cravings

Even if you have a solid plan and you’ve discussed possible medications with your doctor, the urge to smoke can strike at any time. Resisting a powerful craving is one of the toughest things a smoker can do. Even former smokers with years of smoke-free anniversaries under their belts still do battle with cigarette cravings. We’ve polled a few former smokers and have put together a list of alternatives that have the stamp of approval from our team.

  • Go for a walk or run — and keep moving until the urge passes
  • Make a call to a local quitline
  • Try deep breathing or meditation
  • Call or text a friend
  • Think of all reasons why you quit in the first place
  • Remind yourself that you’ve come so far
  • Believe that you can resist the urge
  • Make an appointment with an acupuncturist
  • Chew gum
  • Pop a tart vitamin C drop into your mouth
  • Eat a crunchy, healthy fruit or vegetable snack
  • Reward yourself with a small treat for fending off a craving
  • Calculate how much money you’ve saved by not smoking
  • Make a playlist of your favorite songs and listen to it whenever a craving strikes
  • Stay busy
  • Go someplace (like a movie theater or restaurant) where smoking is prohibited
  • Distract yourself by doing a good deed (picking up litter, making a donation to your favorite charity)

We wish you good luck and strength in your quest to quit! Believe that you can, and you can do it. For more information on sudden cardiac arrest, AEDs, or CPR training, visit AED.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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How Obesity Plays a Deadly Role in Cardiac Arrest Among Young People

The Good News? Early Screening for Cardiovascular Risk Factors Can Save Lives.

We all know that being overweight or obese is bad for your health, but did you know the extent to which obesity and other risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol are linked to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in young people between the ages of five and 34?

A recent study conducted by Sumeet S. Chugh, MD, medical director of Cedars-Sinai’s Heart Rhythm Center in Los Angeles and a leader in sudden cardiac death research, found that easily identifiable cardiovascular risk factors were common in young people who suffer from cardiac arrest.

First, a quick word about SCA. Unlike a heart attack, which occurs when one or more coronary artery becomes blocked, SCA occurs when the heart stops beating, stopping the flow of blood to the brain and to other vital organs. SCA often occurs abruptly and without warning. If the heartbeat is not restored with an electrical shock, death follows within minutes. In fact, SCA accounts for more than 350,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Cardiac arrest claims one life every 90 seconds and accounts for more deaths than colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, influenza, pneumonia, auto accidents, HIV, firearms, and house fires combined (Heart Rhythm Society).

Obesity can significantly increase the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, and all three of these conditions are closely connected with heart disease. In fact, Science Daily reports that being overweight or obese increases a person’s risk of coronary heart disease by up to 28% compared to those with a healthy body weight, even if they have healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels!

We recently investigated What Causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Young People and found that although causes of SCA in children and young adults vary, death is often a result of genetic heart abnormalities, structural abnormalities, or commotio cordis caused by athletic activity. However, researchers at Cedars-Sinai have discovered that obesity and other common (and often preventable) cardiovascular risk factors may play a much greater role in SCA in children and younger people than previously known.

Obesity, Other Risks Play Large Role in Sudden Cardiac Arrest Among the Young,” an article published by the hospital about Dr. Chugh’s study, notes that “Combinations of obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking were found in nearly 60 percent of cases studied. The findings shed light on a public health problem among the young that has remained largely unsolved.”

“One of the revelations of this study is that risk factors such as obesity may play a much larger role for the young people who die from sudden cardiac arrest than previously known,” said Dr. Chugh.

The comprehensive 16-hospital, multiyear assessment was conducted as part of the Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study.  The study was partially funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Routine Preventative Visits May Reduce Cardiovascular Risk

In the article, Dr. Chugh suggests extending prevention efforts (such as offering resources for smoking cessation programs, sharing exercise guidelines, and tips for healthy eating) to include routine preventive screenings for children and young adults. This addition could help reduce cardiovascular risk.

“The added benefit of such screenings is that early efforts to reduce cardiovascular risk are known to translate into reduction of adult cardiovascular disease,” he said.

These visits, typically covered at no charge by health insurance providers (healthcare.gov), usually include screenings, checkups, and counseling. The goal of these visits is to help prevent health problems before a young person at risk for sudden cardiac arrest experiences any symptoms. By reducing known risk factors for cardiovascular disease, we may simultaneously lower the number of deaths caused by cardiac arrest.

We hope you’ll visit our blog in the coming weeks for more information on smoking cessation and for strategies to prevent heart disease. In the meantime, if you’re thinking about purchasing a new or recertified AED for your home or workplace, or you’d like to schedule AED training or maintenance, visit AED.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. We also welcome your emails, you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

 

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What Causes Sudden Death in Young People?

These 4 Heart Problems Are Often Blamed for Sudden Death in Young People

SCA in youth

Although thankfully very rare, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) claims the lives of an estimated 6,000-8,000 individuals under the age of 35 each year (Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation).  While a vast majority of the more than 356,000 cardiac arrests that are recorded each year occur in adults over the age of 35 who suffer from coronary artery disease, these numbers are still something to be concerned about. The Mayo Clinic estimates that perhaps 1 in every 50,000 SCA deaths a year occurs in young athletes.

While it’s uncommon, and millions of elementary, high school, and collegiate athletes compete each year without incident, SCA can happen at any time and to anyone. If you think that you or your child might be at risk of sudden death, be sure to talk to your doctor about precautions you can take.

What Causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Young People?

Causes of SCA in children and young adults vary; however, most often death is a result of genetic heart abnormalities, structural abnormalities, or commotio cordis.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Typically an inherited condition, HCM causes the heart muscle cells to enlarge and which then causes the walls of the ventricle (usually the left ventricle) to thicken. This may block the blood flow out of the ventricle — if this occurs, it’s called obstructive HCM.

Non-obstructive HCM, according to the American Heart Association, “can affect the heart’s mitral valve, causing blood to leak backward through the valve. Sometimes, the thickened heart muscle doesn’t block blood flow out of the left ventricle. This is referred to as non-obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The entire ventricle may thicken, or the thickening may happen only at the bottom of the heart. The right ventricle also may be affected.”

HCM is very common and affects men and women equally. Often, people who have HCM experience no warning signs or symptoms. Others may experience shortness of breath or disruptions to the heart’s electrical system which can lead to fast or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) and may result in SCA. Although usually not fatal, HCM it often goes undetected and is the most common cause of heart-related sudden death in people under 30.

Congenital Coronary Artery Abnormalities

Occasionally people are born with unusual or abnormal heart arteries. If this occurs, arteries may become compressed during exercise and not provide adequate blood flow to the heart.

Long QT Syndrome

Long QT syndrome, caused by abnormalities of proteins in the heart, is also an inherited heart rhythm disorder that may lead to fainting and can cause life-threatening arrhythmias. People with long QT syndrome are at an increased risk for suffering from cardiac arrest. Nearly half of the individuals with long QT never exhibit a symptom of the abnormality. Although there is no cure, medication may help (SADS Foundation).

Commotio Cordis

We discussed commotio cordis at length in March, but in a nutshell, this rare cause of sudden cardiac death can occur in anyone. Because it occurs as the result of a blunt blow to the chest, which can cause ventricular fibrillation, athletes are especially susceptible. The average age of athletes who suffer from sudden cardiac arrest is just 17 and more than two-thirds of young athletes who die suddenly are basketball and football players. Baseball, softball, hockey, and lacrosse players, however, are also especially susceptible to commotio cordis.

What are the Warning Signs of Heart Problems in Young People?

Unfortunately, sudden cardiac death often occurs with no warning or indication. However, if you or your child experience dizziness or unexplained fainting during physical activity, it could be an indication that the heart isn’t working properly.  Likewise, if you or your child experience shortness of breath or chest pain, speak to your doctor immediately!

Finally, if there’s a family history of sudden cardiac death or unexplained deaths before the age of 50, you may want to discuss cardiac screening options with your physician.

Cardio Partners offers CPR, first aid, and AED training courses in all 50 states in traditional classroom settings and in blended learning courses. To learn more about our courses or to equip your facilities with an AED, call our team at 866-349-4362, visit aed.com or email Cardio Partners at customerservice@cardiopartners.com. We’d love to hear from you!

 

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