Blog for February 2015:
Please be my Valentine!
February is designated as Heart Month. The American Heart Association has done a good job of public education and information, and it is always appropriate to have a review.
There are some common symptoms of heart attack to keep in mind:
• Chest pain, like an elephant is sitting on your chest;
• Shortness of breath that doesn’t go away;
• Sudden onset profuse sweating;
• Sudden onset neck or jaw pain;
• Sudden onset profound tiredness;
• Pain that travels from chest to neck, jaw, back;
The symptoms for females may be much different than this listing above. I have had women tell me that for an entire day they “just didn't feel well,” unusual restless, vague nausea and indigestion, generalized aching that persists; feeling like you have never felt before in a very negative, concerning, and foreboding way.
Heart disease remains the primary cause of death in the United States. Don’t delay in seeking medical help for the symptoms indicated above. Delay can be deadly!
WHEN IN DOUBT, CALL 911.
The emergency medicine technicians (EMTs) would much rather take you into an emergency room with these symptoms and have them rule out a heart condition, than have you deny the seriousness of your symptoms and stay at home until it is too late.
One important reason to call an ambulance is that they have oxygen to provide, which is of paramount importance at the onset of a heart attack; they also have medication to ward off complicating cardiac situations.
Another important reason to call an ambulance, is that they are in radio contact with the nearest, best qualified Emergency Department so that the hospital can be ready for you when you arrive.
It is very common for people to deny that anything is seriously wrong; it is difficult to give up control because we think it can't possibly be happening to us. Yes, we have heard countless stories of others --- perhaps even in your own family, or among friends---none of us is guaranteed that it will not happen to us. That is true even though you may have never smoked, your blood pressure may have always been normal, there may be no family history of heart disease, your weight may be in a good range, and your may be a fitness fanatic. There is still risk of cardiac disease.
Sadly, in the past week, the local newspaper has reported two sudden deaths: a 46 yr old man playing in a pond hockey tournament, and a 14 yr old boy running laps around an indoor track. The newspaper focused their reporting on the human aspects of these tragedies, but I was looking for clinical detail. What was the response from healthcare providers, what equipment was available, how could this have been treated differently to give a better outcome? My deepest sympathy goes to those families.
ARE YOU PREPARED?
Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd is blessed to have AEDs (automatic external defibrillators) that were donated by Dave and Margaret Christensen some years back. Dave has left us, but let us thank Margaret again and again that we have this equipment at hand. Your parish nurse keeps the AEDs in prime working order; the batteries and electronic pads were replaced within the past year, and are viable for 5 – 7 years.
There is an opportunity coming up very soon for you and your family to learn CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) and the use of the AED. An RN, teacher and trainer, certified by the American Heart Association to certify others in the correct use of CPR and use of AEDs will be offering classes within the next few weeks. He happens to also be a parish nurse and a hospital nurse at United Hospital in St Paul. The classes will be given as a 4-hr session, and we can accommodate five participants at each session. On Saturday February 28th there will be one session at Good Shepherd from 8 a.m. - noon; on Saturday March 14th there will be a morning session from 8 a.m. – 12 noon, and another session from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. Again, only five participants can be accommodated in each of these sessions. This is for individuals ages 15 through adult; those under age 18 will need written permission from a parent.
This is a valuable skill for anyone to have. Start noticing which public buildings have AEDs available. And FYI, the AED, no matter which brand name, is engineered with voice instructions that guide the user through every step of the process. You can't use it incorrectly! If the person is not in a heart emergency, the AED will not discharge --- that's a good thing, it does not mean the user was doing something wrong; it simply means that the patient's symptoms are caused by something other than a heart rhythm. Handling the AED does not present a risk of accidentally discharging an electric current. You will learn proper handling in the class.
The other part of the training session is CPR, cardio pulmonary resuscitation. It is now taught as “bystander” CPR, with only chest compressions. This is an effective procedure, which is much simpler than the 'old way' of mouth-mouth-breathing, and counting chest compressions and breaths. These are good skills for anyone to have. It saves lives each and every day around the globe.
Some years ago a public health initiative was put in place in Seattle, Washington, to train every adult and child, over the age of six, in proper use of AEDs and CPR. The outcome was that the statistics of cardiac deaths declined dramatically!
We are strongly encouraging our youth, staff, worship team captains, Boy Scouts, and any others to take this training and become certified in CPR. Sign up must be done through Dorothy Ellerbroek, our parish nurse, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 612-518-4357. There will be sign-up sheets at the Welcome Desk. Feel free to contact Dorothy for any questions.
There is no cost for participants in these classes. This event is sponsored by a grant from the Fairview Hospital Foundation Community Health outreach to association member churches in southwest Minneapolis.
Please take care of your own heart so you can celebrate this Valentine's Day! And please learn how to save another's life by learning how to re-start a heart!
Won't you be my Valentine?