Focusing on heart health essentials, learning CPR

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Learning good heart health essentials and CPR helps ourselves and others and it’s on many minds lately.

Last Monday, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin went in for a tackle on a Cincinnati Bengals player and suddenly collapsed. Medics rushed to the scene and had to perform CPR on Hamlin, before rushing him to the hospital. Doctors later found he went into cardiac arrest.

“Cardiac arrest is when your heart stops and typically that’s related to a life-threatening abnormal rhythm, usually from the bottom chamber of the heart,” said Yaw A. Adjei-Poku, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Lovelace Hospital.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside the hospital each year. The chances of surviving cardiac arrest are less than 12% outside of a hospital. That’s why learning CPR and giving it as soon as possible can better someone’s chances at survival.

“Time is of the essence, so recognizing someone who collapses suddenly, identifying that you have to look for a pulse and, if they don’t have a pulse, initiating chest compressions – that may be the difference between someone recovering after a cardiac arrest and someone, unfortunately, passing away,” Dr. Adjei-Poku said.

Adjei-Poku says that cardiac arrest is something that can happen to anyone, even a 24-year-old like Damar Hamlin. It also happens for a variety of reasons.

“Coronary heart disease or blockages to the blood vessels that are supplying your heart is the most common reason for people going into cardiac arrest. Other reasons or other medical conditions are people that have structurally abnormal hearts,” Dr. Adjei-Poku said. “Younger patients, like the NFL player that we’ve heard recently in the news [Damar Hamlin], it could be a genetic abnormality, something that they’re born with that they may have no idea about, that has never been diagnosed previously.”

Cardiac arrest is something you can recover from, just as Damar Hamlin is doing now.

To prevent cardiac arrest or improve your heart health, focus on exercise and changing your eating habits. Also, make sure you get enough natural light during the day and enough sleep at night.

Above all, make sure you regularly visit your doctor for checkups to ensure everything is normal.

If you would like to learn more about how to do CPR and/or where to find a CPR class, click this link here.