Everyone in this country should be given CPR training, for free. I attended a CPR Heart Saver course last night, and couldn’t believe the misconceptions I had about heart disease, symptoms, and emergency treatment. Here are some highlights; this is stuff everyone should know:
- Women are generally considered to be at lower risk of heart attack. This is based on bad information. Heart attacks in women manifest themselves so differently from men’s that many, many heart attacks in women are not factored into statistics. Heart attack symptoms in women tend to include a stiff neck and jaw pain, and may not include the typical male symptoms such as crushing chest pain or limb pain. If you think it’s just a bad sleep that gave you that stiff neck, think again.
- When pressing on the chest as part of CPR on an adult heart attack victim, you’re not doing it right if you don’t break a few of the victim’s ribs. The chest has to be compressed by a third to be effective. If the victim can complain of a broken rib after you’ve revived them, you may still get a medal of valour — because They’re Not Dead!
- Angina is not a heart attack. It’s heart pain that is caused by constriction of blood vessels and arteries on the heart. You can have low cholesterol and the unclogged arteries of a teenager, and still get angina. You can also live a long and healthy life with the condition. It does not indicate that a heart attack is imminent.
- If someone is suffering symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, do not give them an aspirin or other “blood thinner” such as alcohol. If the symptoms are caused by an aneurism, and not a blockage, you could cause serious and fatal internal bleeding.
There is so much more. Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew that everyone in our society were armed with the training and information needed to save lives? Wouldn’t an informed public also save health care dollars? The cost of a publicly paid programme of CPR and First Aid training would be more than covered by savings from hospital treatment. Lives would be saved. I’ve harped on this before, but once again I can’t believe how short-sighted our country’s “leaders” are. As my grandma always said, “An ounce of prevention … ”