Dec
01
2003

Bystanders Become Lifesavers: Immediate CPR Improves Survival

Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (=CPR) is known to save lives, but it has been known for some time that it has to be applied as early as possible to save lives on the longterm. In a recent study in Ottawa/Ont., which was published recently in the medical journal Circulation, the OPALS study checked out survival data.

OPALS is an acronym for Ontario Prehospital Advanced Life Support Study. One of the lead authors, Dr. Ian Stiell, emphasized that CPR done by bystanders (such as immediate family members) right in the beginning of a cardiac arrest will double the probability of having a survivor with quality of life that is very good.

Here are some detailed figures from that study. Only 14% to 15% of patients who suddenly collapse and are in need of CPR actually receive CPR. There were 8,091 cases of cardiac arrest that occurred between 1995 and 2000 in Ontario. Only 5.2% (418 patients) survived until the time of discharge from the hospital. 4% (324 patients) survived until the timeline of 1 year after the event. Of these the researchers were able to interview 268 survivors.

Bystanders Become Lifesavers. Immediate CPR Improves Survival

CPR saves lives

The following are a few observations from the OPALS study:

1. 85% of cardiac arrests happen at home.

2. 43% of cases are witnessed by bystanders, so if they all would know CPR about 3-times more unconscious patients could receive CPR (14% to 15% times 3 equals about 43%).

3. 65% of cardiac arrests in the OPALS study occurred in men. The authors recommended that women over 40 should get trained in CPR.

4. Women usually play a more pivotal role in taking care of elderly parents, of their spouse and of children, which puts them more likely into a situation where bystander CPR is required.

5. Family members of heart attack survivors should be encouraged to take a CPR course as the probability of a cardiac arrest is higher in these patients.

6. All 4 links to successful resuscitation are important: CPR by a bystander; defibrillation; rapid access to care; early advanced cardiac life support.

7. Contrary to rumors the long term outlook of successfully resuscitated patients is good and after 1 year the survivors have a quality of life as good as their healthy peers. However, without CPR initially the quality of life is only half as good as those who had someone provide CPR on them. The authors found it difficult to dispel some of the misconception surrounding CPR. Some of the myths are the notions that a person could do some harm by administering CPR or not performing CPR it correctly. They said it is important to be decisive and administer CPR to an unconscious person and call for an ambulance.

Summary: The OPALS study re-emphasized the importance for everybody to learn CPR. You never know when you need this skill. The more people know it, the more lives will be saved.

Here is a link to the University School of Medicine site entitled “Learn CPR – you can do it!

Last edited December 8, 2012

May
01
2003

Blood Clot Dissolving Therapy Saves Lives

Clot dissolving therapy (fibrinolytic therapy) has saved many lives when it is applied fast enough with patients who have a heart attack. In younger patients up to age of 65 to 70 years this method was applied without questioning by the treating physicians.

Several studies have shown that elderly patients have more complications such as strokes, where there can be a brain hemorrhage causing another disaster, namely a stroke from a hemorrhage as a side-effect of the clot dissolving medicine. It’s a case of too much of a good thing overthinning the blood. A new study from Sweden, which was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine on April 29, 2003 (Arch Intern Med 2003;163:965-971) showed that elderly patients with a heart attack can also benefit from this clot dissolving therapy. The main investigators, Drs. Ulf Stenestrand and Lars Wallentin, have followed 6,891 patients who have sustained their heart attacks between 1995 and 1999. They were at least 75 years of age and older, but not older than 85 years. Of these patients 3,897 received fibrinolytic therapy and 2,994 did not. Combined survival statistics and statistics of whether or not the patients suffered a stroke as a result of the clot dissolving therapy were recorded over the next year.

There was a drop of 13% of deaths and of strokes in the treatment group when compared to the controls. There were some other ways that the investigators analyzed the data statistically, but the treatment group was always better off.

Blood Clot Dissolving Therapy Saves Lives

Blood Clot Dissolving Therapy Saves Lives

The investigators concluded that there is no reason to withhold this clot dissolving treatment from elderly patients as the practice had been up to then. Until randomized studies with more details can be done, they stated, one should treat elderly patients who have acute heart attacks until the age of 85 with clot dissolving treatments.

Here are some links that may be of interest:

This link explains what a heart attack is.

Last edited December 9, 2012

Nov
01
2002

Heart Attack And Stroke Risk Measured With C-Reactive Protein

An old blood test that has been popular in assessing how aggressive rheumatic illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus are, is now considered as the newest test to assess the risk of heart attacks. Up to now subfractions of cholesterol, in particular the LDL cholesterol level, has been used to assess the risk for a heart attack, but this according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine (Nov. 14, 2002) by Dr. Paul Ridker should be supplemented by a blood test checking for the C-reactive protein. What is interesting about the C-reactive protein is that it originates from certain lining cells in blood vessels of liver tissue when inflammatory substances circulate in the body. Other research has shown in the past that arteriosclerosis is in part due to an inflammatory process in the lining of the blood vessels that leads to the production of the C-reactive protein. Unfortunately other chronic illnesses and infections also lead to an elevation of the C-reactive protein as does the common cold or the flu. However, when 28,000 women of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital study were followed for 8 years it turned out that the C-reactive protein was a more reliable predictor for who would eventually suffer from a stroke or a heart attack than the traditional LDL cholesterol. The investigators felt that the LDL cholesterol is predictive for who is more likely to develop fatty deposits (atheromatous plaques). On the other hand the C-reactive protein appears to be more predictive for who is at a high risk for rupture of these atheromatous plaques. The bottom line is prevention by eating a diet with less fatty meats, by eating more fruit and vegetables and by engaging in an exercise program.

Heart Attack And Stroke Risk Measured With C-Reactive Protein

Heart Attack And Stroke Risk Measured With C-Reactive Protein

Some patients need their cholesterol reduced with medication such as the statins. You may want to browse through these useful related links to chapters of my free Internet based Nethealthbook: For more details regarding the use of the C-reative protein test in rheumatoid arthritis see this link: http://www.nethealthbook.com/articles/rheumatologicaldisease_rheumatoidarthritis.php Regarding arteriosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes follow this link: http://www.nethealthbook.com/articles/cardiovasculardisease_heartdisease.php

Last edited December 10, 2012

Oct
01
2002

More Exercise Leads To More Health

Based on an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 2002;288:p.1994-2000) Dr. Mihaela Tanasescu and his group from Loma Linda University in California have followed more than 44,000 health care professionals every 2 years for 12 years.

He asked the question whether a difference could be found between light, moderate or heavy exercise in the prevention of heart attacks.

Here is what they found: 1700 new cases of heart attacks as a result from hardening of arteries were mostly found in those who did NOT exercise or were in the LIGHT aerobic category. The more the persons exercised, the more pronounced the heart protective effect was. For instance, the group of men who engaged in a heavy exercise program had developed 17% less heart disease than the group with the light exercise program. Contrary to the marathon runner studies that had reported a detrimental effect at the high end, this study did not find this effect.

Also, this study is one of the first to show that weight training and other muscle strengthening activities also reduced strokes and heart attacks. Up to now the medical community was of the opinion that body building type muscle training might not prevent strokes or heart attacks.

More Exercise Leads To More Health

More Exercise Leads To More Health

The authors concluded that a combination of aerobic exercises(brisk walking, running, sports etc.) with muscle strengthening exercises(body building, stretching exercises, weight lifting etc.) will give the most beneficial heart protecting health effect. Try these useful related links to chapters of my free Internet based Nethealthbook:

Hardening of the arteries:
http://www.nethealthbook.com/articles/cardiovasculardisease_heartdisease.php

Fitness:
http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/

Last edited October 25, 2014