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Heartbeats & Heroics: A CPR Survival Story During National Heart Month

National Heart Month - February 2024
A jogger's life saved by CPR on Houston's streets underscores the urgency of CPR skills. Learn, act, save lives. #CPRSaves #HeartMonth

Today, I want to share a story that's close to my heart - quite literally. It's a story about survival, hope, and the incredible impact of CPR.

Two years ago, on a crisp morning around 6:30 a.m., a man was jogging along Kirkwood in Houston. In a twist of fate, he collapsed. A nurse, driving by, witnessed this and, without a moment's hesitation, jumped into action and administered CPR right there on the street. When EMS arrived, they had to shock the man's heart to bring him back. He spent 10 days in a coma, but eventually pulled through and survived against all odds. Now, with an implantable defibrillator keeping his heart steady, he lives to tell his tale. It’s safe to say he wouldn’t be here today without the power of performing timely CPR.

This February, as we observe National American Heart Month, I'm reminded of the vital importance of heart health and the crucial role of CPR. For 35 years, I've proudly served as a professional CPR instructor and volunteer with the American Heart Association. In this journey, I've learned some hard truths:

  1. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. In 2021, it claimed about 700,000 lives in the U.S. alone, accounting for 1 in every 5 deaths.

  2. There are many risk factors for heart disease, ranging from tobacco use and high blood pressure to physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes, and chronic stress.

  3. Heart disease symptoms can vary in men and women. Women often experience subtler symptoms, which can be easily mistaken for less serious conditions.

  4. Tragically, heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both men and women. Even though heart attacks may be more prominent in men, they are often more fatal in women.

  5. Heart attacks can strike at any age, though they're more common at 64 for men and 70 for women.

It's crucial to understand that heart attacks and cardiac arrests are not the same. While a heart attack victim needs medical attention within the 'Golden Hour', a cardiac arrest victim requires immediate CPR and AED intervention, regardless of age.

Sadly, less than half of Americans know how to perform CPR. 

Reasons for this vary, from fear of legal action to concerns about the complexity of CPR. Yet, with 350,000 Americans dying from sudden cardiac arrest annually, the need for widespread CPR knowledge is more urgent than ever. The good news is that for teens and adults, Hands-Only CPR, which involves chest compressions without rescue breaths, is a simple yet effective technique.

I encourage you, in the spirit of American Heart Month, to take a moment and consider learning CPR. It's not just a skill; it's a potential lifeline for someone in need.  

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