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Instant Hands-Only CPR buys time
By Raul L. Lapitan, MD
President
Philippine Heart Association

When a person suffers from sudden cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death, his/her best chance of survival without any setbacks would rely on the speed or amount of time of emergency aid response. The most advisable response rate is four minutes. The lesser time spent on reviving a victim through hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or basic life support (BLS), the fewer the consequences and the better the results.

About 70% of sudden cardiac arrests occur within the confines of the household. During this situation, chances are none of the family members know more than to have hurried trips to the hospital or immediately call for an ambulance, due to lack of knowledge on proper medical response methods. And by the time help arrives and the patient gets to a hospital, there is only a thin, four to six percent chance of survival left. With the overwhelming traffic jam these days, exacerbated by the holiday rush, we are very fortunate if it would take only about twenty to 30 minutes for an ambulance to get a patient to a hospital, even if it breezes at race car-level speeds.

The four-minute rule of reviving a heart attack patient is paramount to lessen brain damage and other complications. Thus, knowing the basics of CPR is crucial to suffice for the gap between the onset of cardiac arrest to the arrival of medical aid.

Immediately after calling for help with a request for an ambulance (ideal if with AED), chest compressions should be done to an unresponsive victim while lying on their back. About 100-120 compressions and 2.5 inches deep should be applied continuously using both hands (for hands-only CPR), or quickly followed by two rescue breaths every 30 compressions (for healthcare provider) for four cycles. This should be continuous until either help arrives or the patient finally responds. For infants, the method is different.

Furthermore, the holidays play a significant role in inducing cardiovascular incidences among individuals as top holiday food choices fervently laden and prepared with oily and fatty substances – especially in the Filipino setting – prove to be fatal for the heart. This is attested by the constant increase of people flocking to hospitals a few weeks after holiday feasts which usually takes place from January to February with worsened or contracted cardiac problems and diabetes.

This is why the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) has established its two flagship advocacies, the CPR-Ready Philippines and the 5-2-1-0-0 Lifestyle Advocacy, side by side to complement heart health in both areas of prevention and health management. The PHA has already set out a five-year roadmap of goals to be achieved towards a “CPR-Ready Philippines” by the year 2021. There could not be a much better time for this prospect to be introduced as the country could already be considered as an “underdog” in CPR and Basic Life Support (BLS) education, whereas most Asian, American and European countries, be it first- or third-world, have CPR in their primary education modules and publicly accessible Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

With the passage of the Samboy Lim Bill into the CPR Law or RA 10871 to integrate CPR and BLS education among primary and secondary education institutions, the organization is on a series of drives that plot and conduct CPR training in key areas of the country, specifically the tourism sector which receives a high volume of human convergence and incidence of medical emergencies every year.

In September this year, the PHA and the Department of Tourism (DOT), through the office of Tourism Undersecretary Alma Jimenez and Director Rica Bueno, became official partners in the implementation of the CPR on Wheels & Wings Campaign. The PHA-DOT joint campaign is in collaboration with the PHA Chapters, local governments that don’t just share our excitement in the project but walk the talk. We are indeed, fortunate to have embarked on the CPR on Wheels & Wings on the right track. The first leg—Boracay, which took place on Oct. 22, 2016, was a good take-off point. There was a strong representation from the Boracay tourism industry, Malay Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office and barangay health worker (BHW) groups. We targeted 500 basic CPR (for cardiac arrest and drowning victim) training participants, but we taught 550.

On December 3 and 4, 2016, we made history. At least 4,600 BHWs from Iloilo province’s districts 1, 4 and 5 and tourism leaders and frontliners from Iloilo, Guimaras and Bacolod, attended the basic CPR for the lay trainings that were conducted in three venues – The Venue, Mandurriao, Iloilo; Guimbal and Banate, Iloilo. Everyone was attentive, we saw a good number of people taking notes –with their pens and notebooks. A few used their phones taking pictures and taking down notes. Stirring questions were asked.

The CPR on Wheels & Wings – Western Visayas – Panay (Iloilo and Boracay), impelled an impetus. We did a very impressive first and second run. By sustaining the same speed and getting more partners and participants, there is no doubt we are headed towards the CPR-Ready Philippines status in 2021.

But, of course, preparedness of lay people, is never enough as it only intends to be utilized temporarily during emergency situations, strategic public and private places around the country, have to be equipped with AEDs. It is about time for the local and national governments to acquire and install AEDs and to beef-up its health and disaster emergency teams.

For heart attacks and other cardiovascular repercussions, time is of the essence. Every second that passes by would either mean an increased chance of survival or ultimately the patient’s life. If we want to spend more healthy time with our loved ones, live healthily and learn CPR.

Consequently, the 5-2-1-0-0 Advocacy, on the other hand, promotes consuming 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 hours maximum screen time with gadgets and other media that induces inactivity, 1 hour of exercise everyday, 0 smoking and 0 sugary beverage – a scheme developed for the masses to raise awareness and, therefore, empower individuals to adopt the habit in their everyday routine for a healthier heart.