February is American Heart Month, and this year the American Heart Association’s theme is “Be The Beat” to encourage the public to know how to perform hands-only CPR. Tim Harms, the senior director of communications for the American Heart Association in Indiana, shares that about 350,000 people nationally suffer a sudden cardiac arrest each year. Ninety percent of those people don’t survive.
“CPR more than doubles the odds of survival by 50 percent. It takes two to three minutes to learn hands-only CPR,” he says.
First in the two-step method is to call 911. Second, push fast and hard in the center of the victim’s chest until the EMS arrives. Sixty-second videos are available on the AHA’s website.
For prevention, Harms recommends three things incorporated into your lifestyle to reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke:
Harms reminds readers, “Eat more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, cut back on added sugars, watch salt intake, and strive for a well-rounded diet.”
“The AHA recommends adults get at least 150 minutes minimum of moderate exercise per week,” he adds. “Obviously, the easiest and lowest cost — and available almost anywhere — is walking.”
Monitor Blood Pressure
“We encourage people to see their physician to get their blood pressure checked or go to the pharmacy for a free screening. You can buy a cuff and monitor it at home,” he says.
“Sometimes change sounds daunting,” Harms says, “so start with something and build from there.”
What To Do If You Experience Heart-Related Distress
If suddenly experiencing heart issues, “Pay attention to what your body is telling you,” Harms says. “You know your body, and you know when something doesn’t feel right. Many times, in the instance of a heart attack, it’s very sudden chest pain, you’ve got nausea, you’ve got sweating, things that aren’t normal. Don’t play it off and think you can just rest or (say), ‘I’ll lay down for a while,’ or just take an aspirin.”
“It’s potentially a very serious event that’s happening. Definitely call your doctor or call 911 or get to the emergency room and be checked out,” he emphasizes. “The worst thing they’re going to tell you is it wasn’t anything and send you home. In the best case, they’re going to potentially save your life by you taking action and not ignoring those symptoms.”