Tag Archives: Cardiac Arrest

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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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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