Thursday, January 03, 2008
Safer in a casino than a hospital?
A headline may catch your eye today. It will read something like "You are more likely to die of a heart attack in a hospital than a casino." (Full Story). No question that sounds pretty scary, but I want to provide a little context to this story (See Study).
First off, what is really happening to your heart during a heart attack or cardiac arrest? It is typically one of two things: Either your heart is beating too fast or it is beating in some sort of abnormal rhythm. The bottom line is the same: Your heart is no longer providing the blood flow required by the rest of your body, including the heart muscle itself, and that muscle begins to die.
We also know that delivering an electric shock to the heart within a couple of minutes can make a difference, sometimes restoring a normal rate and rhythm. The longer the delay, the less likely it will work. That's the background. So what is it about casinos or airports that make you more likely to survive a cardiac arrest than in a hospital?
Well, it has to do with a couple of things. First, there are simply more people around in a casino or an airport or any public building who may actually witness a cardiac arrest and offer up treatment more quickly - in that crucial two-minute window. In a hospital, unless a patient is hooked up to a cardiac monitor or being constantly observed, a cardiac arrest may go unnoticed for more than a few minutes - maybe too long. The other factor is that patients in hospitals are often sicker in the first place, which is why they are in the hospital. They may be less able to recover from a heart attack.
As part of this blog, let me also encourage you to review the new CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) practices for bystanders by clicking here. They have changed recently, and in some situations focus more on doing chest compressions rather than mouth to mouth breathing. There's even a kit available to learn CPR in just one hour at home. (Full story)
It's worth your time and may just save a life.
Have you ever witnessed someone having a heart attack? How did the people around react and what was done?
ABOUT THE BLOGGet a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
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