The Cardiac Chain of Survival

The Cardiac Chain of Survival is a series of critical actions that, when performed in sequence, significantly increase the likelihood of survival following a cardiac arrest. This concept is widely promoted by various health organizations, including the American Heart Association (AHA), as a guideline for both laypeople and medical professionals to follow during a cardiac emergency. The chain consists of the following links:

  1. Immediate Recognition and Activation of the Emergency Response System: This step involves recognizing the signs of a cardiac arrest, such as sudden collapse or unresponsiveness, and immediately calling emergency services (like 911 in the United States). Early recognition and calling for help are crucial to start the survival chain.
  2. Early Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): Performing CPR promptly is critical because it helps maintain vital blood flow to the heart and brain until professional help arrives. Bystander CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.
  3. Rapid Defibrillation: This involves the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to deliver an electric shock to the heart. Defibrillation can restore a regular cardiac rhythm in a person who has suffered a cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia.
  4. Effective Advanced Life Support: This step is provided by healthcare professionals and includes the advanced airway management, intravenous medications, and other interventions needed to support life and promote the restoration of a normal heart rhythm.
  5. Integrated Post-Cardiac Arrest Care: After the immediate emergency is over, the patient needs specialized care aimed at preserving brain function, managing other critical aspects of the patient’s health, and facilitating rehabilitation. This includes therapeutic hypothermia (cooling the body), controlled reoxygenation, and other measures to improve the patient’s recovery.

Understanding and implementing the Cardiac Chain of Survival can significantly impact survival

Be sure to take a CPR class to learn how to save a life! 

Snow Shoveling Heart Safety

Heart Safety in Snow Season
Winter can be a great time of year, but it has it’s own special dangers. If you live in a region that receives snow during the winter season, you are probably familiar with the task of snow shoveling.  However, you may not know that snow shoveling can increase your risk of heart attack.  The American Heart Association warns that snow shoveling may increase the risk of heart attack for some people [1].  Why is that, and what simple things can you do to decrease that risk?
 
Snow shoveling, physical exertion, and stress on the heart have been correlated with heart attacks experienced after snow storms [2].  Dr. Eric Van De Graaff (an Alegent Creighton Physician who specializes in cardiology) notes 5 triggers for heart attacks: “a lot of exertion”,”morningtime”,”intense emotions”,”big meals”, “dirty air and traffic snarls” [3].
 
Fortunately The American Heart Association provides some simple tips that can help you reduce your risk while shoveling snow [1]:
– Give yourself a break.
– Don’t eat a heavy meal prior or soon after shoveling.
– Use a small shovel or consider a snow thrower.
– Learn the heart attack warning signs and listen to your body
– Don’t drink alcoholic beverages before or immediately after shoveling.
– Consult a doctor. If you have a medical condition
– Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia.
 
The Health and Safety Institute (a major provider of emergency response education) recommends to keep an eye out for the signs of a heart attack: lightheadedness, dizziness, being short of breath or if you have tightness or burning in chest, neck, arms or back [4].  And most importantly, if you think you are having a heart attack call 911; quick access to advanced medical care is critical for someone suffering a heart attack.
 
Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year!