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Be a good Samaritan if you’re around anyone whose heart stops beating.

2009/10/15

CNN’s Sanjay Gupta is researching and doing a program on “cheating death”.  I read this striking account of a woman who survived after her heart had stopped for 10 minutes.  Her husband, who is a first responder, immediately started chest compressions.  Studies are indicating that, because there is already oxygen in the blood, chest compressions only are more likely to preserve life.  Taking the time to do mouth to mouth isn’t as necessary as was once thought, and it apparently takes away from the rapid chest compressions that help the heart start beating again.

This resonates with me because the woman in the article as well as Denise, my husband’s first wife, was 33 when her heart stopped and she passed on.  She just collapsed while they were watching television.  We’ve never talked about what he did while he was waiting for the rescue squad to arrive.  I know they told him to make sure the lights were on and the front door opened.  I’m not sure exactly when her heart started back up.  I just know Tim had flashbacks about that evening, and he waited for 2 hours in the emergency room with no news.  Her heart started, but the neurological damage was done, and she had lost brain function. 

The article said 2% of people whose heart stops beating outside of a medical setting survive.  In this case the woman showed neurological damage, and they cooled her body and were somehow able to reverse or heal the neurological damage.  She did say in the article that the trauma was driving her family apart, that she and her husband were dealing with it differently.  I would love to know if she remembered anything that happened while she was unconscious.  The husband probably has PTSD, even though she survived.  It’s a huge trauma.  And/or perhaps she had some brain damage that affects her cognitive function or even her personality, so she is different.  I wonder if she had a near-death experience.

Anyhow, hate to talk about something so sad, but the article said very few people start CPR on someone who collapses in public.  I think this is probably because they are afraid of doing something wrong.  However, it said that if rapid compressions (100/minute) were started within 60 seconds of the heart stopping, the survival rate would increase considerably.  100 beats/minute, and don’t stop until medical personnel arrive.

Not very creative, but it resonated, so I wrote.  Ta Ta!

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2 Responses to “Be a good Samaritan if you’re around anyone whose heart stops beating.”

  1. Edrie Says:

    Thanks for this very helpful info, Julie! Am enjoying your blog, you write very well!


  2. Thanks, Edrie. I hope you had a good weekend!


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