Take care of your heart


Heart disease is the number one killer in the Western Hemisphere.
This wake up call comes from Managing Director of Sandy Crest Medical Centre Dr. Brian Charles, who gave a recent assessment of the sudden cardiac deaths on the island, and how many cases of heart disease can be prevented.
Stressing that this is not a new phenomenon, he revealed that research has shown that 15-20 patients visit the Accident and Emergency Department daily with some form of heart disease. This he says, represents 17 percent of A& E admissions, which is quite significant.
“In circumstances where you have high a incidence of heart disease you are going to get a reasonable amount of sudden cardiac death,”he explained.
He said that these cases can be reduced by reducing factors that lead to heart disease and by adopting a Chain of Survival, which is a sequence of events created to save a person’s life.
“Lifestyle changes would be the preventative aspect and public training in CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators. We have heard about the risk factors, fortunately for us the majority can be addressed by lifestyle changes. High blood pressure, hypertension, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, lack of exercise, being overweight or obese. Those risk factors are all modifiable. When we do so we decrease our chance of having sudden cardiac death or arrest,” he stressed.
However, he explained that not all risk factors can be changed including a family history of heart disease. “I always say to people we don’t chose our parents, our parents choose us, so if you have a history of heart disease or diabetes in your family you are going to have a higher chance of having a sudden cardiac arrest.”
Additionally, he noted that ethnicity also comes into play as persons of Indian and African background have a higher incidence of heart disease than persons who are Caucasian.
Cardiac arrest is usually caused by a disturbance in the rhythm of the heart to provide blood to the rest of the body. 80 percent of Cardiac deaths by sudden cardiac arrest occur outside of the hospital setting.
“So if you want to address it you have to address it in the public. Even though our ability to recognise persons at risk for sudden cardiac disease is increasing, 90 percent of the cases occur in persons who have not had their risk factors identified.”
Dr. Charles stressed that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a temporising measure for those persons who have had a sudden cardiac event leading to sudden cardiac death. “It is a temporising measure because the definitive treatment is a procedure called defibrillation. CPR can be taught to anyone. With CPR you buy the person with sudden cardiac arrest some time before they get attended to by a medical professional. CPR can be taught to anyone within four to six hours of instruction and it is life saving,”he said. (JH)

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