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Heatstroke and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Heatstroke is no joke. Despite the fact that all heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about 658 people succumb to extreme heat each year. 

Sudden death — or sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) — can be brought on by a number of different causes including congenital heart defects, cardiac arrhythmia, commotio cordis, hypovolemic shock, and even electrolyte imbalances brought on by hyperthermia (heat stroke). 

Since we’re knee-deep in summer, we thought it was a good time to talk about heatstroke, its connection to SCA, and how to avoid it.

What Causes Heatstroke?

Heat-related illnesses are caused by exposure to too much sunlight and heat. When your body can’t cool itself adequately, you may start to feel over-hot, headachy, clammy, heavy, tired, dizzy, and nauseated. Your heart rate may increase as well. If this happens, it’s time to stop whatever it is you’re doing and find some water, shade, or air conditioning! 

Exposure to excessive heat can directly or indirectly cause some illnesses, and can certainly exacerbate preexisting conditions, such as heart and respiratory disease.

How Can You Prevent Heatstroke and Heat-Related Illnesses?

The CDC notes that “People at greatest risk for heat-related illness include infants and children up to 4 years old; people 65 years of age and older; people who are overweight or have existing medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease; people who are socially isolated; and the poor.” 

However, even young and seemingly healthy individuals can suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke if they’re engaging in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. Drinking alcohol, taking certain medications, or excessive exposure can put people at an even greater risk. 

Basically, anything that causes dehydration and inhibits perspiration or otherwise impairs your body’s ability to regulate its internal temperature can put you at risk of heatstroke. 

Here’s what you can do to stay cool:

  • Stay loose: Wear comfortable, lightweight, and light-colored clothing.
  • Put a lid on it: Protect your brain! Wear a hat or invest in a reflective umbrella.
  • Avoidance is okay: When the temperatures start to soar, stay out of the sunshine.
  • Exercise early: If you need to get a move on — and everyone should aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity each week — do it before 9:00 am or after 4:00 pm.
  • Drink up: If you are exercising in the heat, drink plenty of electrolyte-enriched water and take frequent breaks.
  • Get acclimated: If you work outside or you’re on a beach vacation, let your body acclimate to the heat before doing anything strenuous.
  • Circulation is your friend: If you don’t have air conditioning, be sure to use fans to keep air flowing in your home.
  • Slather on the sunscreen: Sunburn limits your body’s ability to keep itself cool. So even if it looks uncool, keep applying sunscreen.
  • Be a good neighbor: Check-in on folks who might be at a higher risk for heat-related illnesses such as elderly, disabled, or house-bound individuals.

Why are Electrolytes so Important?

Calcium, sodium, and potassium are the most important electrolytes in your body. “Calcium and potassium have to be in balance—sitting on either side of cell membranes, ready to switch places—in order to cause muscles to contract or nerves to transmit impulses. Once calcium and potassium swap places and cause things to happen, sodium puts them back in their place for the next time. If there aren’t enough of one or two or all of these electrolytes, then the heart muscle cells can’t move, which means the heart won’t pump,” (VeryWell Health).

And here’s what the American Heart Association has to say about electrolytes: “Electrolyte abnormalities are commonly associated with cardiovascular emergencies. These abnormalities may cause or contribute to cardiac arrest and may hinder resuscitative efforts.” 

Cardiac arrest brought on by heatstroke is 100% avoidable! Listen to your body, and before you head out into the sun, whip up a batch of homemade lemon-ginger electrolyte drink!

For more information on sudden cardiac arrest, AEDs, and CPR and AED Training, search our blog archives or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

DISCLAIMER: Information and resources found on the cardiopartners.com and aed.com websites/blogs are intended to educate, inform, and motivate readers to make their health and wellness decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider. The authors are not healthcare providers. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.

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Celebrate CPR Awareness Week with Cardio Partners!

June 1-7 is CPR Awareness Week. Let’s Save Some Lives!

You’ve probably gathered that here at Cardio Partners and aed.com, we’re pretty passionate about CPR and AEDs. After all, it’s who we are and what we do. As one of the primary licensed training providers for both the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association, we’re dedicated to offering the highest quality classes and services.

“I really like being able to share my knowledge,” says Cardio Partners Lead Training Specialist, Omar Walker. “With my EMS background, I’ve done CPR hundreds of times and have seen the benefits of it. It’s so important to have people who are prepared to save a life. As an instructor, it’s gratifying to have people say that they’ve had CPR training for 20 years and that my course is the best training they’ve ever received.”

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in this country and most cardiac arrests occur at home (American Heart Association).

If you don’t have your first aid, CPR, and AED certifications, make a commitment to register yourself and your loved ones for a course this week!

Find an American Red Cross Class Near You!

Find an American Heart Association Class Near You!

If you’re a business owner, director of a nonprofit, school principal, daycare provider, or community organizer, contact us to find the right course for your organization.

In honor of this year’s CPR Awareness Week, we thought we’d recap a few of our most popular AED and CPR posts.

3 Must-Read Articles About AEDs

Shocking Statistics About AED and SCA

Back in October, we dug deep and found some incredible statistics about sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and AEDs. Be sure to read the full article, but here are the key takeaways:

  • SCA kills more Americans than lung cancer, breast cancer, and HIV/AIDS combined (AHA).
  • Among middle-aged adults treated for SCA, 50% had no symptoms before the onset of arrest (NCBI).
  • 475,000 Americans die from a cardiac arrest every year and 17.5 million people across the globe die from cardiovascular disease each year (AHA).
  • 10,000 SCAs occur in the workplace each year (OSHA).
  • 68.5% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur at home (SCAF).
  • 45% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims survive when bystander CPR is administered (AHA).

Finding Funding for Your AED Program

We think every organization, every school, and every community needs quick and easy access to public AEDs. Not only do we offer affordably-priced new AEDs and recertified AEDs, but we also published A Complete Guide to AED Grant Writing. In this free downloadable eBook, we offer insight into the different kinds of grant funding, an insider’s guide to the grant writing process, tips for writing a successful grant, and suggestions for making the strongest case possible for your AED. We even point you in the right direction for potential funding sources.

The Importance of AEDs: A Survivor’s Story

We have a huge soft spot for winners and we were delighted to catch up with SCA survivor Rob Seymour three years after he suffered a cardiac arrest after crossing the finish line at the 2015 Broad Street Run in Philadelphia.

3 Must-Read Articles About CPR

What Will I Learn From a CPR and First Aid Class?

If you’re wondering what to expect and what you’ll learn from a CPR and First Aid Certification course, sign up for one! Need a preview? Here we go:

  • Knowledge: Topics include how to identify sudden cardiac arrest, perform CPR, employ standard precautions, assess an unresponsive person, use an AED, and how to recognize and provide treatment for a choking adult, child, or infant.  
  • Skills: You’ll learn to perform one-person CPR, CPR with rescue breaths, hands-only CPR, how to administer CPR as part of a two-rescuer team, how to administer a shock from an AED, and so much more.
  • Experience: As part of your hands-on CPR training, you’ll have the opportunity to practice CPR with rescue breathing, AED use, and working as part of a two-rescuer team.
  • Confidence: Although you’ll gain the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to help someone in need, you’ll also learn about your boundaries and the limits of your abilities. Knowing what you can and cannot do is a huge part of building confidence.

CPR Songs: Greatest Hits to Save Lives

This one was a ton of fun. Fire up Spotify and commit some of the Cardio Partners CPR Playlist, Greatest Hits to Save Lives, to memory.

June 1-7 2019 is CPR Awareness Week! Celebrate with us at Cardio Partners by getting educated and trained on saving a life.

CPR for Pets

Let’s not forget about our fur family! Our article, CPR for Pets, is a long-standing reader favorite. Here are the generally accepted recommendations for performing CPR on your cat or dog:

  • Perform 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute.
  • Compressions should be performed with the animal lying on its side and should be as deep as one-third to one-half of the chest width.
  • Ventilate intubated dogs and cats at a rate of 10 breaths per minute. For mouth-to-snout ventilation, maintain a compression-to-artificial respiration ratio of 30-2.
  • Perform CPR in 2-minute cycles. If possible, switch the person performing the compressions with each cycle.
  • In a medical setting, administer vasopressors every 3 to 5 minutes during CPR.

A free special issue of the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care covers the development of the guidelines as well a detailed evidence analysis.

How CPR Works: A History

Sometimes we just have to dive down an internet rabbit hole. When we discovered that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was three centuries old, we knew we had to trace The History of CPR and How it Works from the 1700s to the 21st Century.

Ready to celebrate CPR Awareness Week? We have the info you need about CPR or AEDs and CPR and AED Training. Or to purchase an AED, visit AED.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

DISCLAIMER: Information found on the cardiopartners.com and aed.com websites/blogs is intended to educate, inform, and motivate readers to make their health and wellness decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider. The authors are not healthcare providers. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.

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AED Use on Infants and Children

Can you use an adult AED on an infant or small child?

In a word, YES! Although AEDs are manufactured with adults in mind, pediatric settings and pads adjust the energy level used, making them safe for young children who weigh less than 55 pounds. The American Heart Association recommends that pediatric attenuated pads should be used on children under the age of eight and on infants. Adult pads are used on children eight years and older.

However, the Journal of Pediatric Emergency Care notes that “In the absence of prompt defibrillation for ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia, survival is unlikely. Automated external defibrillators should be used in infants with suspected cardiac arrest, if a manual defibrillator with a trained rescuer is not immediately available. Automated external defibrillators that attenuate the energy dose (eg, via application of pediatric pads) are recommended for infants. If an AED with pediatric pads is not available, the AED with adult pads should be used.”

We think this bears repeating: if infant or pediatric settings and pads are not available, rescuers may use adult pads on infants and young children. Apply one pad to the front of the chest and the other to the child’s back so that the pads do not come into contact with one another.

Once the pads are attached, follow the instructions given by the AED.

Remember, without prompt treatment (CPR and defibrillation), sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is always fatal. If you have an AED and you suspect that a child or infant is in cardiac arrest, use it!

All AEDs are designed to analyze a victim’s heart rhythm regardless of age, and if a shockable rhythm is detected, the device will prompt the rescuer to administer an electric shock. Some devices will administer shocks automatically. An AED will not advise or deliver a shock unless the victim’s heart rhythm is in one of two shockable rhythms. You cannot accidentally shock someone with an AED.

How Do You Recognize Pediatric AED Pads?

Pediatric electrode pads are typically smaller and feature a different color packaging than adult pads. Generally speaking, the instructions and pad placement illustrations will depict a small child or infant. If your AED requires a child/infant key, the key will likely have an illustration on it showing the proper placement of the adult AED electrode pads for use on a child or infant.

How Common is Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Children?

Thankfully, SCA is fairly uncommon in children. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “Although SCA is rare in children, it can affect anyone, even those who are physically fit. Each year, SCA claims the lives of over 2,000 children and adolescents in the U.S. and accounts for approximately 3-5% of all deaths in children aged 5-19 years. It is also responsible for 10-15 percent of sudden unexpected infant deaths.”

The 2015 AHA Heart and Stroke Statistics released by the American Heart Association found that 6,300 Americans under the age of 18 experienced an EMS-assessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). When CPR and AEDs are administered within three to five minutes of cardiac arrest, sudden death can be prevented.

What Causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Young People?

Some of the most common causes of sudden cardiac death in young people include:

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

A condition that’s typically inherited, HCM causes the heart muscle cells to enlarge, which then causes the walls of the ventricle (usually the left ventricle) to thicken.

Congenital 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. Some congenital cardiac abnormalities include Long QT syndrome, atrial septal defects, ventricular septal defects, and Ebstein anomaly.

Commotio Cordis

Commotio cordis is a rare cause of sudden cardiac death that occurs as the result of a blunt blow to the chest. Young athletes are especially susceptible and the average age of athletes who suffer from sudden cardiac arrest is just 17.

How is Infant and Child CPR different than Adult CPR?

Child and infant CPR is different from adult CPR. We strongly urge you to take an AHA-approved CPR and AED certification class. These classes will teach you how to perform adult, child, and infant CPR and how to effectively use an AED.

CPR for children is very similar to adult CPR, however, rescuers should start CPR before calling 911. After two minutes of CPR with rescue breaths, call 911. Because a child’s airway is more fragile than an adult’s, use caution when providing rescue breaths and be careful not to tilt the head back too far. When providing chest compressions, use one or two hands, depending on the size of the child. The depth of compressions should be only one and a half inches. The ratio of compressions to rescue breaths, 30:2, is the same for children as for adults.

It stands to reason that great care should be taken when performing CPR on an infant. Although a baby’s bones are more flexible than an adult’s, they’re also much more delicate. As with older children, you’ll want to begin CPR on an infant before calling 911. Of course, if there’s another person at the scene, ask them to call 911 immediately.

To learn more about our CPR and AED Training or to purchase an AED with pediatric capabilities, visit aed.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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