The Irish Heart Foundation is urging more people to learn lifesaving CPR skills so they can react in the event of sudden cardiac arrest
According to the national charity fighting heart disease and stroke, the Irish Heart Foundation, almost two thirds of cardiac arrest victims in Ireland now receive bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
This lifesaving skill can be vital to sustain heart viability until emergency services arrive and can be performed effectively by children from as young as ten years of age.
In the event of a collapse, Irish Heart Foundation resuscitation expert Brigid Sinnott has urged the public to forget the kiss of life and go straight to hard and fast compressions on the chest after calling 999 or 112 to make sure emergency services are on the way.
“Many people are afraid to give CPR in an emergency because of their lack of knowledge and many more are put off by the thought of having to give the kiss of life,” she says.
“Regardless if you have been trained or not, if someone collapses unconscious in front of you, call 999 or 112 and start giving strong chest compressions to the beat of Stayin’ Alive to keep a good tempo.
“The reality is that about 60 per cent of collapses occur in front of family or friends which is why we need to encourage everyone to give hands-only CPR a try.”
Every year in Ireland an estimated 5,000 people die suddenly from cardiac arrest when their hearts stop beating. Between 70 and 100 of these deaths occur in people under the age of 35.
For every minute a person is collapsed without receiving CPR or defibrillation, their chance of survival decreases by between eight to ten per cent per minute. After five minutes, their chance of survival may be reduced by as much as 50 per cent.
But, according to Ms Sinnott, with bystander CPR and the availability of a defibrillator within minutes, their chances can greatly improve.
Irish Heart Foundation Medical Director Dr Angie Brown stressed that many people can survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest but only if they receive immediate CPR.
“The great thing about Hands-only CPR is you don’t need any special skills or to remember how to do the kiss of life. All you need to remember is that you can’t do any harm and you may well save a life. We just need more people to get hands on and give it a try – it could be the difference between life and death.”
Dr Brown concluded it is also important to remember that playing sport and getting active is good for you and can help prevent premature coronary disease, which remains the biggest cause of sudden cardiac death.
“If anyone has first degree relatives who have died suddenly from a heart condition or have symptoms of dizziness breathlessness or chest pain then it’s important to seek urgent medical assessment.”
For Irish Heart Foundation certified resuscitation courses see www.irishheart.ie.