August 27, 2006 Sudden cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heart suddenly stops beating. In most cases, it occurs when the heart starts beating too rapidly (called ventricular tachycardia) or the rhythm becomes chaotic (ventricular fibrillation). The heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body and soon stops beating. The patient then stops breathing and loses consciousness. Without immediate treatment, death soon follows (sudden cardiac death). The American Heart Association estimates 900 Americans die every day from sudden cardiac death. In most cases, the patients have underlying coronary artery disease or a prior history of heart attack. Intervention for Sudden Cardiac Arrest When sudden cardiac arrest occurs, patients need help immediately. Brain death occurs within four to six minutes after the heart stops beating. An electrical shock (defibrillation) is needed to restart the heart and restore normal heart rhythms. For every minute that goes by after sudden cardiac arrest, the chance of survival drops by 7 to 10 percent. After 10 minutes, there is little chance of survival. When a person collapses from sudden cardiac arrest, bystanders need to access the "chain of survival." While defibrillation is the key to getting the heart restarted, it can take several minutes for rescue personnel to arrive on the scene. Once the emergency response system has been activated (calling 911), a bystander should start giving CPR. CPR is a rescue system that uses chest compressions and breaths to force blood through the heart. Although it wont restart the heart, providing a minimal amount of blood flow may provide some precious oxygen to the heart and brain, buying the patient a little time until rescue workers arrive. The American Heart Association estimates effective bystander CPR can double the chance of survival for a victim of sudden cardiac arrest. Learning CPR at Home Sudden cardiac arrest can occur anywhere. In fact, about 75 to 80 percent of sudden cardiac arrests in non-hospitalized patients occur at home. And because the problem is unexpected, bystander CPR can be crucial to saving the victims life. Traditionally, CPR is taught in a classroom or office by a certified instructor. Class participants learn the basics and practice their skills on a special manikin. But some people are uncomfortable in a formal class setting. Others may not be able to fit a class into their busy schedule. To teach CPR to as many people as possible, the American Heart Association has developed a new video-based education program, called, Family and Friends CPR Anytime™. The program kit contains a 22-minute instructional DVD, a student book and an inflatable practice manikin for adult or child CPR. The DVD can be used by anyone at any time - in the privacy of home or by community groups. It takes a viewer through the appropriate steps and allows unlimited time to practice the skills on the manikin. In one study, lay persons 40 to 70 effectively learned CPR by watching the video and practicing their skills on the inflatable manikin. Research shows that even well-trained people loose some of their CPR skills over time. With Family and Friends CPR Anytime, those who have already learned CPR can practice their skills from time to time. The Family and Friends CPR Anytime kit costs $29.95. It is available by calling (800) 611-6082, or logging online to http://aha.channing-bete.com/family-friends/cpranytime.html. People who want to be officially certified in CPR will still need to take the traditional course. AUDIENCE INQUIRY The "Family and Friends CPR Anytime™" kit costs $29.95 and is available by calling (800) 611-6082. Information is also available online at http://aha.channing-bete.com/family-friends/cpranytime.html For general information about sudden cardiac arrest, CPR, or traditional classes: American Heart Association, http://www.americanheart.org, or contact your local chapter Heart Rhythm Society, http://www.hrspatients.org National Center for Early Defibrillation, http://www.early-defib.org BIBLIOGRAPHY "CPR- The Vanishing Competency," Critical Care Nurse, December 2005, Vol. 25, No. 6, pp. 8-12. "CPR Facts and Statistics," Dallas: American Heart Association, downloaded from website (http://www.americanheart.org), July 28, 2006. Donoghue, Aaron, M.D., et al., "Out-of-Hospital Pediatric Cardiac Arrest," Annals of Emergency Medicine, December 2005, Vol. 46, No. 6, pp. 512-522. Ewy, Gordon, M.D., et al., "Cardiocerebral Resuscitation for Cardiac Arrest," The American Journal of Medicine, January 2006, Vol. 119, No. 1, pp. 6-9. Groeneveld, Peter, M.D., and Douglas Owens, M.D., "Cost-effectiveness of Training Unselected Laypersons in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Defibrillation," The American Journal of Medicine, January 2005, Vol. 118, No. 1, pp. 58-67. Herlitz, J., et al., "Efficacy of Bystander CPR," Resuscitation, September 2005, Vol. 66, No. 3, pp. 291-295. Lynch, B., et al., "Effectiveness of a 30-minute CPR Self-instruction Program for Lay Responders," Resuscitation, October 2005, Vol. 67, No. 1, pp. 31-43. "The Problem of Sudden Cardiac Arrest," Pittsburgh: National Center for Early Defibrillation, downloaded from website (http://www.early-defib.org), July 28, 2006. Richardson, Lynne, M.D., et al., "New Approaches to Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest," The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine, January 2006, Vol. 73, No. 1, pp. 440-448. 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