Recent sudden deaths attributed to sudden cardiac arrest could have been prevented if more people were trained to administer Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Managing Director of Sandy Crest and Coverley Medical Centre Dr Brian Charles said Monday.
Making a strong case for widespread CPR training among Barbadians, Dr Charles stressed that with nine sudden cardiac deaths for the first seven months of the year, the general public should make an effort to address the problem and reduce the incidence, which though alarming, was nothing new.
“If only there was someone who could have attended to anyone of those people with sudden cardiac arrest, that person could have been saved. But if there is no one who has the training to do CPR then that life is going to be lost within eight to ten minutes. The message here is, we need to train more people in CPR.”
Dr Charles made the comments as the Sandy Crest Medical Center donated 24 Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation “Ambu SAM” mannequins to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados, The Barbados Red Cross and the St John Ambulance Association, to boost training opportunities.
Saying it was a known fact that “more people die from heart disease than if a fully loaded 747 plane crashed everyday for an entire year”, he cited research conducted in 2005 which showed that the Accident and Emergency department of the QEH treated between 15-20 patients with heart disease daily.
He expressed concern that more than 80 per cent of cardiac arrest cases occurred out of the hospital setting.
“So if something happens in the public you want to address it, you have to address it at the level of the public.
“Ninety per cent of the cases occur in persons who have not had their risk factors identified. So there are 20 of us in this room, of the 20, 16 of us probably have risk factors for heart disease that have not been identified and this is a staggering amount,” he emphasized.
Saying that CPR can be taught to anyone in just four to six hours, he stressed that the life-saving procedure can “buy” the patient some time before they receive professional medical attention, once administered between eight to ten minutes after the incident occurs.
Head of the A&E Dr Chaynie Williams said the 2005 figures citied by Dr Charles were still relevant today. Dr Williams added that the hospital “will be pushing for public access to defibrillation so persons who are in areas where there are large crowds will know it is available at the airport and other facilities.
“As a general rule we think that defibrillation equipment is absolutely important,” she stressed.
The hospital official noted that the mannequins would be important for training both medical professional and lay persons, saying that the Martindales Road facility had already embarked on mass life support training programmes at both the basic and advanced levels.
Chief Executive Officer of the Heart and Stroke Foundation Gina Pitts stressed it was critical that prevention be identified as important part of the chain of survival and she expressed concern that too many Barbadians were simply unaware of their risk profile for heart disease, which leads to cardiac arrest.
“A number of persons do not know what their risk profile is. They have never entered into preventative screening so that they are aware of what their factors are and their risk for having ischaemic heart diseases. That is something an individual can do and should do on an annual basis so that they are aware of how their risk profile is progressing. Some very simple blood tests can easily identify what your risk profile is,” she said.