Congenital Heart Defects And Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Congenital Heart Defects And Sudden Cardiac Arrest on

An under-appreciated killer goes under the microscope

For many Americans, congenital heart defects are a topic we tend to overlook. Even during American Heart Month (February), the focus is usually on lifestyle-related prevention of heart disease. In fact, it’s not until a news item appears – usually about a young person in fine health suddenly suffering a heart attack while playing sports – that it gets our attention.

While not a common occurrence, congenital heart defects are a critical reality for 1.3 million Americans. And greater awareness of them can often mean the difference between life and death.

What is a congenital heart defect?

In its simplest terms, a congenital heart defect is a structural problem within the heart that’s present since birth. According to the American Heart Association, the damage, which can range from simple to severe, occurs shortly after conception, usually before a woman even realizes she’s pregnant.

Out of 1,000 births, it’s estimated that eight will have some type (there are more than 40 known varieties) of congenital heart disorder. Most of these cases are mild, and early diagnosis and treatment are necessary. Early indicators, usually identified within the first few months after birth, include:

  • Blue complexion to the skin;
  • Very low blood pressure;
  • Breathing problems;
  • Feeding issues; and
  • Poor weight gain.

Some conditions, however, cannot be diagnosed until children are older, and some patients may not even be aware of their condition until adulthood. Therein lies the issue of sudden cardiac arrest.

Sudden cardiac arrest vs. heart attack

While many people use the two terms interchangeably, there is a very real difference between the two.

Most heart attacks occur when a blood clot caused by a build-up of arterial plaques blocks a coronary artery, which can lead to the damage or death of the heart muscle fed by that particular artery. In most cases, victims will experience chest discomfort and other warning signs leading up to and during the event. They will also often remain conscious.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), on the other hand – which a heart attack may lead to – is often abrupt and unexpected, especially when a congenital heart defect is the cause. The heartbeat stops due to an electrical abnormality. As a result, blood stops flowing to the brain and the person collapses. Without immediate treatment, the result is death.

The role of CPR and AEDs

Greater awareness of congenital heart defects and other issues that lead to sudden SCA are an alarm for more CPR training and the availability and use of AEDs. Because SCAs are so immediate, there is a need to respond quickly:

  • Call 911 to alert medical personnel to respond to the emergency
  • If an AED is not available, perform CPR until an AED arrives; If one is available, skip to the next step
  • Use the AED to analyze the victim’s heart rhythm and to provide a shock if necessary, then move to CPR while following any prompts from the AED
  • Advanced care will begin with the arrival of medical personnel and transport to the hospital.

In an analysis of a North Carolina initiative to promote CPR training for family members and bystanders, the American College of Cardiology report a marked improvement in survival rates after the statewide program “trained family members and bystanders to recognize the signs of sudden cardiac arrest, quickly call emergency responders, and use CPR or automated external defibrillators (AEDs).”

From the moment of the event to discharge from the hospital:

  • For SCAs in the home (family member training), the survival rate rose from 5.7% to 8.1%.
  • For SCAs in a public location (bystander training), the survival rate increased from 10.8% to 16.8%.

Similar improvements were also found in the number of patients with minor losses in brain function and full improvement. Despite the positive results of the educational initiative, the authors of the study saw opportunity for improvement:

“The authors explain that these results are encouraging, but due to the low absolute survival rates, there is still room for improvement. They suggest that future research in this area include interventions such as deploying AEDs into more private homes when cardiac arrests occur and using mobile technology to notify nearby citizens trained in CPR who can initiate care quickly.”

What One Beat CPR can do for you

Congenital heart defects that lead to SCAs are a sudden and underappreciated killer, but one that can be mitigated with greater access to AEDs and widespread lifesaving training. It’s our mission to change these statistics.

In addition to defibrillator sales and maintenance, One Beat CPR provides CPR and AED training for caregivers, family members, medical personnel, and anyone who wants to be prepared to save a life. Successful completion of the course is valid for two years.

For more information or for a free consultation, contact us at 855.663.2328 or complete our convenient online form.

What Professions Require CPR Certification?

What Professions Require CPR Certification? on

5 industries and jobs that need CPR training

In most cases, if a job puts people in danger and lives are more likely to be on the line, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification and/or AED training is a requirement.

But it’s not simply dangerous workplaces that have a responsibility to care for employees: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards state that, “In the absence of an infirmary, clinic, or hospital in near proximity to the workplace which is used for the treatment of all injured employees, a person or persons shall be adequately trained to render first aid.” OSHA considers “near proximity” to be within 3-5 minutes of an emergency facility.

The federal agency also “recommends, but does not require, that every workplace include one or more employees who are trained and certified in first aid, including CPR,” regardless of proximity to a health care facility.

And the rewards of having CPR-trained employees go beyond saving lives — they can reduce potential liability and give employees the confidence to react in an emergency. However, for some jobs it isn’t simply a recommendation, it’s a requirement. Let’s look at a few of them.

Careers with CPR/AED requirements

While these careers might not be the first to pop into your mind as requiring CPR certification, you’ll probably be glad to know they do:

  1. Childcare.  Whether it be at a facility or at-home childcare, providers are required to know infant and child CPR. This mandate extends to foster homes, camps, and juvenile offender facilities — and it’s probably a good idea to include your friendly neighborhood babysitter on that list as well.
  2. Corrections. Aside from the normal medical issues that can emerge on a daily basis, prisons and jails can create their own life threatening situations. A staff trained in CPR dramatically reduces the risk of death for both inmates and corrections officers.
  3. School coaches. Like all leaders, the best coaches know how to make us realize our true potential — and that almost always means pushing yourself to the limits. Some athletes ignore those limits, and they’re not always aware of congenital conditions that might turn a great training session into a life-threatening moment.
  4. Construction workers.  Who hasn’t driven by a construction site at one point or another and thought, “That looks kind of dangerous”? Proper resuscitation practices while waiting for an ambulance to arrive on the job site can be pivotal in saving lives.
  5. Flight attendant.  While there might be a chance of a doctor being on a flight, airlines are smart enough not to take that bet. Flight attendants can do a lot more than demonstrate proper oxygen mask usage and bring you cocktails — they just might save your life.

How to get CPR certified

These professions are just a sampling of those that require CPR/AED training. Among others are the broad spectrum of healthcare professionals, members of law enforcement, lifeguards, and public school teachers. In fact, Florida was the first state to mandate that all public schools with an athletics program have AEDs on site.

Ideally, many more people should be CPR and AED certified — everyone should have the training. Regulations and industries vary, and the expert staff at One Beat CPR can help determine the right approach based on industry, job, and location. Contact us today to learn more or to get certified.

CPR Training and AEDs Can Save Lives in the Gym

CPR Training and AEDs Can Save Lives in the Gym on

CPR training and AEDs also protect gyms and athletic organizations from liability, and defibrillators are required by law in 15 states and DC.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), up to 70% of Americans do not know how to properly respond to a situation in which a family member or nearby individual suffers a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) – either due to a complete lack of CPR training, or their inability to recall the training they previously received. While this statistic is concerning enough for the average American, it’s even more alarming for those who manage or own gyms and athletic training facilities.

While the exertion of working out isn’t likely to trigger a cardiac event itself, it could potentiate arrest in individuals with preexisting heart problems. That could leave gym owners, managers, coaches, and athletic associations to be seen as liable for injuries and deaths individuals might sustain on the premises – if the organization did not take proactive steps to train employees in CPR and ensure that an AED is accessible and nearby.

Numerous lives saved in gyms due to CPR training and AED accessibility reinforce the value of investing in gym safety

Statistics and potential legal liability certainly aren’t the only reason gyms should invest in CPR training and AEDs: plenty of stories illustrate the human impact of the decision. This January, a woman performed lifesaving CPR to a fellow member of a Toronto-area gym after employees failed to do so. According to CBC news, Alex Jade, a 29-year old actress, both performed CPR and used an AED to revive Jarosław Zabrzycki, 51, a fellow Toronto resident who was engaging in a late night workout when he collapsed onto the floor.

In a similar story, a Pawtucket, Rhode Island police officer revived a fellow gym member who collapsed during an early workout at a local gym. According to a local newspaper, Detective Sgt. Christopher Lefort directed gym employees to call 911 while he performed lifesaving CPR on the patient. Likewise, this April, a man in Portland, Maine also performed lifesaving CPR on a stranger who had collapsed at a local gym. Celebrity fitness trainer Bob Harper says an AED – an automatic external defibrillator – helped save his life when he suffered a heart attack at his gym.

These stories, all occurring within the last year, point to the same conclusion: CPR and AEDs save lives. But unfortunately, in most of these cases, it wasn’t a gym employee who helped – it was a fellow member. Many gym employees were not properly trained or, though trained, the employees failed to intervene.

Unfortunately, that lack of action can be costly – ethically and financially. In one case, the family of a Southern California man who died after experiencing a heart attack in a local gym attempted to sue the health club he attended for damages. The family of Marc Palotay, 65, a senior vice president at NBC Universal, filed a 2015 lawsuit against Studio City Fitness Gym. The family eventually agreed to a settlement, but the incident highlights the potential risk of failing to protect members from cardiac events.

CPR and AED training is a tiny investment relative to SCA risk

With nearly 400,000 out-of-hospital SCAs occurring each year in the United States, sudden cardiac arrests aren’t an unlikely occurrence. Worse, many SCA victims have no known heart issues, diseases, or other risk factors. Combined with the fact that bystander CPR can double or even triple an SCA victim’s chances for survival, it’s a no-brainer to make sure that there’s always one or more staff members with up-to-date CPR training (and an AED on hand) whenever individuals are using a gym or other athletic facility.

Protecting members and athletes from sudden cardiac arrest isn’t just a good ethical policy – depending on your state’s laws, it could be your legal responsibility. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia now mandate the presence of an AED on premises in gyms. Currently Florida does not, but two other states recommend having the technology and others are likely to follow with legislation. In addition, making sure your employees are CPR and AED trained improves customer service, enhances your organization’s reputation, and avoids needless liability, all while potentially saving lives.

To learn more about how to protect your business or organization with CPR training and AEDs, contact One Beat CPR today for a free consultation.

The Compelling Lifesaving Statistics of AEDs

The Compelling Lifesaving Statistics of AEDs on

Use of an Automated External Defibrillator can increase the cardiac arrest survival rate by a staggering 70%

Every 1.7 minutes, someone in America suffers Sudden Cardiac Arrest, otherwise known as SCA. If not treated, SCA can easily be fatal and it often is – more than a third of a million Americans die each year from sudden cardiac arrest. Perhaps more concerning is the fact that most of these incidents are fatal– and experts say that survival rates consistently hover at or below 10%.

However, when it comes to SCA, it’s not all doom and gloom. Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs, have been helping both first responders and ordinary individuals safely resuscitate SCA victims and save lives without complex medical training. AEDs work by producing a small electrical charge that can reset a patient’s heart to its correct rhythm.

While easy-to-use portable defibrillators are only a few decades old, AEDs are so effective at saving lives that they’re estimated to increase SCA survival rates by a staggering 70%. Despite these statistics, many areas of the U.S. simply don’t have enough AEDs to go around. Experts estimate that an increase in AEDs to optimal levels could save more than 40,000 American lives each year – and that’s just one reason why it’s essential for more people to learn about and have access to this lifesaving device.

Communities with comprehensive AED training programs see a 40% increase in cardiac arrest survival rates

Experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest can be terrifying for a patient and their family – and the fact is, even the fastest first responders often take 8-12 minutes to reach a victim. An AED drastically improves the odds of survival. However, to be effective, an AED needs to be sufficiently close to an SCA victim, and that’s one of the reasons why community-based training programs have been so effective at helping resuscitate cardiac arrest victims across the country. AED programs may be even more important in rural areas, in which victims may suffer an SCA a hundred miles or more from the nearest major hospital. In that case, it could take an hour or more for first responders to arrive – a virtual death sentence if nearby individuals do not have easy access to an AED.

Where AEDs are located in the United States

As many people would expect, the vast majority of AEDs (59%) in the U.S. are currently owned by first responders such as a policemen, firefighters, and EMTs. The next largest group of AED owners are schools (17%), followed by faith-based and recreational organizations, nursing homes and senior centers, and hospitals, clinics, and other medical centers. It’s a good idea to know the general places in which the equipment is most likely to be located, so, in case of emergency, you have a better shot at finding (or helping others to find) a nearby AED. In addition, if you or a loved one has a close family member with a heart condition, you may want to inquire about where the closest AED is, especially if traveling to remote or rural areas.

More AEDs in public places can save lives

In the first 10 months after Chicago’s O’Hare Airport installed 49 AEDs on the premises, the devices were used 14 times, saving a total of nine lives – nearly 1 each month (and that’s only one airport). When it comes to helping an SCA victim, every second counts. According to statistics published by the American Heart Association, every additional minute AED use is delayed corresponds with a 10% reduction in patient survival rates. This means that in especially large areas or buildings, such as airports like O’Hare, it pays to have multiple AEDs located in different areas in order to facilitate easy access to the devices.

Despite their substantial benefits, 64% of Americans have never even seen an AED

While AEDs save an increasing number of lives each year, many Americans don’t even understand what they are. This widespread lack of knowledge means that individuals may not be able to get full use of the life-saving equipment present in their community. Additionally, a lack of understanding means that many Americans are less likely to push for more AEDs in their schools, religious and community centers, and other public areas.

While the number of AEDs is increasing, especially in places like college and university campuses, it’s not increasing fast enough to help many SCA victims. However, increased education and awareness may be able to help. And hopefully, this awareness will help make death from an SCA into an uncommon occurrence.

To learn more about how AEDs (and proper training in their usage) can help save lives in businesses, schools, and other public places, contact One Beat CPR for a free consultation.