Tag Archives: Cardiac Arrest

What You Need to Know About Agonal Breathing

What are Agonal Respirations or “Last Gasps”?

Gasping, or agonal respiration, is an indicator of cardiac arrest. When these irregular breathing patterns occur, it’s a sign that the victim’s brain is still alive and that you must begin uninterrupted chest compressions or CPR immediately.

If you do so, the person as a much higher chance of surviving. In fact, bystander-initiated CPR has been proven to be a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) victim’s best chance of survival. Approximately About 90 percent of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) die; however, nearly 45 percent of OHCA victims survived when bystander CPR was administered (American Heart Association).

Often, agonal breathing is seen during cardiac arrest, and in most cases rescuers report observing these so-called “dying breaths” fewer than 10 to 12 times per minute (as opposed to 12-20 inhalations in typical respiration).

Agonal respiration does not provide adequate oxygen to maintain body functions and should not be considered breathing.

Gasping or agonal respirations commonly occur following or during sudden cardiac arrest or stroke. Based on paramedic reports, researchers found that gasping occurred in 56% of patients who suffered an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. They also found that gasping or agonal breathing is likely more common soon after cardiac arrest and is most common in individuals who receive bystander CPR (Science Direct).

Symptoms of Agonal Breaths

Agonal breathing can last for minutes or up to several hours. Someone who is suffering from agonal breathing may appear to be gasping for air, snorting, gurgling, or moaning, or they may make grunting sounds or display myoclonus — the sudden, uncontrollable jerking of muscle groups.

“The gasping associated with agonal breathing is not true breathing, but rather a brainstem reflex. Agonal breathing often occurs because the heart is no longer circulating oxygen-rich blood. In other cases, it may be due to the lungs not bringing in enough oxygen” (Medical News Today).

Causes of Agonal Breathing

In most cases, patients that suddenly stop breathing without warning and exhibit agonal breaths are likely suffering from cardiac arrest. However, respiratory arrest brought on by severe asthma, choking, stroke, or an opioid or narcotic overdose may also cause agonal breathing.

How to Treat Agonal Breathing

If someone is exhibiting symptoms of agonal breathing, resuscitation efforts should begin immediately and 911 should be called.

“In cases where the patient is not breathing or has agonal respirations but still has a pulse, he or she is considered to be in respiratory arrest rather than cardiac arrest. The 2015 CPR guidelines call for lay rescuers to treat both conditions the same: by starting CPR” (Very Well Health).

The Value of Gasping During Out-of-Hospital Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest

In 2017 a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that gasping during CPR was associated with an increased survival rate. The study noted that “These findings underscore the importance of not terminating resuscitation prematurely in gasping patients and the need to routinely recognize, monitor, and record data on gasping in all future cardiac arrest trials and registries.”

What You Can Do to Help Someone Suffering from Agonal Breathing

Learn CPR. Without CPR, agonal breathing brought on by cardiac arrest is fatal. If you know someone who is at an increased risk for a stroke or cardiac arrest, you’ll need to be able to quickly identify the symptoms and then respond with high-quality CPR.

Ready to learn CPR? As an Authorized Training Center, Cardio Partners provides high quality and consistent CPR and AED training courses across the United States. Our courses are offered through the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association. For more information about blended or traditional CPR and First Aid training, call our team at 866-349-4362 or email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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5 Evidence-Based Benefits of Workplace Wellness Programs

Workplace Wellness

Great reasons to start a corporate wellness program

Corporate wellness programs are more popular today than ever before. In the late 1970s, a few major corporations kicked things off by launching fitness tracking programs that focused almost entirely on physical fitness. Since then, wellness programs have evolved into holistic programs that include mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Today, good wellness programs not only encourage physical activity and healthy eating (which are great ways to prevent heart disease), but they often include mindfulness workshops, lunchtime yoga sessions, tobacco cessation programs, weight loss competitions, healthy living seminars, and health screenings. Wellness programs are now standard components of many corporate — large, mid-sized, and small — benefits packages.

When well executed, wellness programs offer workers incentives, tools, social support, and simple strategies for adopting and maintaining healthy behaviors. Furthermore, research shows that promoting healthy habits to employees and encouraging healthy behaviors through on-site fitness centers or gym memberships, lunchtime wellness programming, health-centered competitions, bike-to-work incentives, and mindfulness seminars are effective ways  to benefit both employer and employee.

1. Healthy, Happy Employees Incur Lower Health Costs

Lower health costs are mutually beneficial for employer and employee alike. Some companies even pass a percentage of health cost savings along to the employees as an incentive or use the savings to keep employee health insurance costs down.

“In a case study of large companies, total medical spending at a company with an employee wellness program experienced slower growth in health costs than companies without a program. Employees saw meaningful reductions in chronic disease risk factors; and average annual savings per employee were $565 (in 2009 dollars), producing a return on investment equal to a range of approximately $2 to $4 saved per dollar spent on the program” (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion).

2. Wellness Programs Improve Productivity

There appears to be a strong link between physical activity and cognitive benefits like memory and focus. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that employees who participated in a health promotion program and improved their health care or lifestyle regained an average of 10.3 hours in additional productivity annually and saved their companies an average of $353 per person per year in productivity costs compared to non-participants.

Evidence also indicates that instituting workplace health programs can reduce the average number of sick days taken, health plan costs, and workers’ compensation and disability insurance costs by approximately 25%.

3. Wellness Programs Improve Employee Engagement

In a Humana-sponsored report, the Economist Intelligence Unit found that wellness programs help bring employer and employee priorities and goals into alignment. In fact, 69% of those surveyed agreed that health and wellness programs are important to their organization’s culture.

“They [wellness programs] increase employee engagement with the company’s mission and goals. Employees are also more likely to see their own wellness as being linked with professional success. Companies that build a wellness culture thus acquire a workforce that is not only more focused and engaged, but that sees that culture as benefiting their careers.”

If that’s not enough, there’s also strong evidence to suggest that wellness programs can lead to improved employee retention and productivity.

4. Employee Wellness Programs May Decrease Depression

Wellness programs aren’t just for the body, they’re for the mind and spirit, too. Holistic wellness programs can help alleviate depression and the symptoms of depression, leading to higher rates of overall work/life satisfaction.

An article published by the National Institutes of Health revealed that those in the wellness study’s intervention group (as compared to those in the control group) were a whopping 63% more likely to show a decrease in their Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) score.

Depression is the leading cause of presenteeism — poor employee performance — in the workplace. By decreasing BDI scores, employers can help their employees become happier and more productive.

5. Wellness Programs Inspire Healthy Behaviors and Reduce the Risk of Chronic Diseases

Making lasting changes to behaviors is challenging for many Americans, but workplace wellness programs can make a tremendous difference. Employers and employees can enjoy all the benefits that accompany healthy weight loss, including lower cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure levels, and more. Wellness programs can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or cardiac arrest, and in as little as six weeks, health risks could decline dramatically leading to a healthier, happier, and more productive workplace.

Please contact Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362 to learn more about our AED packages and our first aid, CPR, and AED training courses — all important components of company wellness programming! We also welcome your email queries; you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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Key Differences Between a Heart Attack, Sudden Cardiac Arrest, and a Stroke

Infographic: American Heart Association

Is it a Heart Attack, Sudden Cardiac Arrest, or a Stroke?

They’re all serious conditions that require immediate medical attention but many people don’t fully understand the differences between these three common killers. Simply put, a heart attack is a circulatory problem, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is an electrical malfunction in the heart, and a stroke is caused by a blood clot or ruptured blood vessel in the brain.  

In this article, we’ll help you understand what’s happening within the body during each of these medical emergencies.

Although the risk factors may be the same from person to person, understanding the differences between these conditions can be a matter of life and death.

What’s a Heart Attack?

Heart attacks are, essentially, a circulation problem and they occur when blood flow to a person’s heart is severely reduced or blocked. Heart attacks can be relatively mild or very, very serious.

During a heart attack, an artery becomes clogged and cannot carry enough oxygen to the heart. The heart may continue to beat normally but if the blockage is not quickly resolved, parts of the cardiac muscle will begin to die from lack of oxygen. The longer a heart attack goes on without treatment, the greater the damage to the muscle.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

You may be able to prevent a heart attack from occurring if you know what to look for and you listen to your body! Symptoms can occur hours, days, and even weeks before the heart attack itself. The most common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting
  • Jaw, neck, or back pain
  • Discomfort or pain in arm or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath

It’s well worth noting that women may experience symptoms of a heart attack differently from men. Even though heart disease is the number-one killer of women in the United States, women often fail to identify their symptoms as warning signs of a heart attack (American Heart Association).

In addition to (or instead of) the symptoms listed above, women may experience pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, lightheadedness, fainting, flu-like symptoms or extreme fatigue.

What’s Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac arrest is an electrical problem and is caused when an individual’s heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating, which prevents blood and oxygen from flowing to vital organs. Unlike a heart attack, SCA is always serious. Without the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) to shock the heart back into a healthy rhythm, death can occur within minutes.

Symptoms of Cardiac Arrest

A heart attack often telegraphs its arrival with clearly defined symptoms, SCA, however, can occur with little or no warning, as it did for SCA survivor Rob Seymour. Symptoms are immediate and dire: sudden loss of consciousness/responsiveness, lack of breathing, and no pulse. During a cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating and the organs of the body are deprived of oxygen.

When the heart stops beating, death can occur within minutes.

SCA can be caused by any number of events, such as ventricular fibrillation, a sudden blow to the chest, electrocution, drowning, drug abuse, heart attacks, cardiomyopathy, or hypothermia. Cardiac arrest can be reversible if it’s treated in the first few minutes with CPR and by using an AED on the victim.

What’s a Stroke?

A stroke is a “brain attack” that can happen to anyone at any time and occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked by a clogged or burst blood vessel. When blood flow to the brain is cut off, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are permanently lost (National Stroke Association).

Symptoms of Stroke

Using the acronym FAST, you just may be able to save someone’s life. If someone’s face begins to droop or they’re complaining of numbness, ask them to smile. If the person’s smile is lopsided, they may be having a stroke. If their arm is weak or numb, ask them to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Is their speech slurred or strange? If someone is showing any of these symptoms, it’s time to call 9-1-1 immediately.

What You Can Do to Assist Someone Who is Experiencing a Heart Attack, SCA, or Having a Stroke?

If you witness someone suffering from a possible heart attack, SCA, or a stroke call 911 immediately. The operator may be able to help you administer compression-only CPR to the victim. If possible, ask a bystander to locate an AED.

You never know when your actions could help save a life.

To become better equipped to offer assistance, sign up for first aid, CPR, and AED training today! Cardio Partners offers CPR, First Aid, AED, and bloodborne pathogen training courses in all 50 states in traditional classroom settings and in blended learning courses. To learn more about our courses or to schedule a training, call our team at 866-349-4362 or email Cardio Partners at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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