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How To Save A Life (AKA Learning The Basics Of CPR)

It's not a coincidence that 70 percent of cardiac arrests and heart attacks happen out of the hospital
by Gelyka Ruth Dumaraos | Feb 28, 2018
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While most people look forward to summer, unfortunate events can still happen under the sun—cardiac arrest due to extreme heat and drowning in unsupervised areas, for example. This is where knowing the basics of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) will come in handy.

Basketball legend Samboy Lim collapsed in 2014 during a Legends exhibition game after collapsing due to cardiac arrest. He was comatose for a month, which could have been prevented had someone administered CPR minutes after he collapsed.

The incident inspired the passage of Republic Act No. 10871 or the Samboy Lim Law, which requires schools to impart basic life support knowledge to students. This is to empower the lay, even the youth, to have the courage to save someone who's in need.

According to cardiologist and former president of the Philippine Heart Association Dr. Raul Lapitan, 70 percent of cardiac arrests and heart attacks happen out of the hospital. "Of those successfully brought to the hospital, only four to six percent come out alive with minimal mental and physical defects," he adds.

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Dr. Lapitan underscores that if everyone is skilled in CPR, even bystanders and loved ones at home can prevent the worst case scenario.


Man's disease

Men have a higher risk than women suffering from heart diseases, which include cardiac arrest, experts say.

In a 2013 Department of Health (DOH) report, Dr. Lapitan cites that more than half of the reported 531,280 cases of death (56 percent) were males, while the remaining 44 percent were females.

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating unexpectedly due to abnormal or irregular heart rhythms. Early and proper CPR within two to four minutes is crucial. The chest compressions will restore the heart rhythm and blood flow to the brain, keeping the oxygen supply intact. Depriving the brain of oxygen beyond four minutes will cause irreparable damage.

CPR saves lives

Dr. Francis Lavapie, who regularly lectures about CPR, recalls when he saved a fellow doctor—much taller and heavier than him—who was drowning due to cramps in El Nido, Palawan. While on the way to the mainland, Dr. Lavapie administered CPR on his colleague, which was difficult to do while in transit via a speedboat. Fortunately, the victim was revived and given medical treatment. It was an unforgettable experience he will remember for the rest of his life.

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But Lapitan stresses you don't have to be a doctor or a nurse to save the life of a cardiac arrest or a drowning victim.

"Fatalities could be mitigated, if not prevented, if everyone is CPR-skilled and because the first responders or frontliners in medical emergencies are the bystanders or witnesses on the streets or loved ones at home," Dr. Lapitan says. "It will not only benefit the patient from suffering, but the witness as well in handling the crisis." 

You can have knowledge of the hands-only CPR, a lay-friendly and simplified life approach which requires only the use of hands. Hands-only CPR training is part of PHA's CPR-Ready Philippines 2021 Campaign, which was launched in 2015.

Here are the basic steps:

1. After quickly making the necessary arrangements (checking for responsiveness and calling for Emergency Medical Services), perform chest compressions with both hands palm face down, one on top of the other with the fingers interlacing the hand underneath.

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2. With the heel of your hand, locate the sternum or the middle bone part of the person's chest and push arms to a depth of 2.5 inches successively up to 100-120 compressions per minute until help arrives.

3. Start immediately within two to four minutes while awaiting help to increase chances of survival and lessening impacts on the patient afterward.

4. Ideally, rescue breaths are advised to help restore oxygen, but previous research and trials have revealed the same positive results between hands-only and breathing-assisted CPR.

As for drowning, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is key. The 2013 DOH report listed accidental drowning and submersion as the second most common cause of death among children aged one to 14 years next to pneumonia.

Not all resorts and water parks have lifeguards or medical personnel available and even if there are, response time is still a primary concern. Conducting CPR can save the lives of your young loved one. "Summer is a time for vacations and reunions," Dr. Lapitan says. "Make it an unforgettable lifetime experience, not a traumatic one."

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