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Be A Lifesaver

All of us can help prevent death from sudden cardiac arrest

Cory Richter, Fire Rescue’s battalion chief of training and quality assurance, (center) demonstrates the use of an AED on a training dummy with emergency personnel. They are (left to right) Steve Graul, Bryan Lee, Jason Pressley and Jordon Feinberg.

Cory Richter, Fire Rescue’s battalion chief of training and quality assurance, (center) demonstrates the use of an AED on a training dummy with emergency personnel. They are (left to right) Steve Graul, Bryan Lee, Jason Pressley and Jordon Feinberg.

Death from sudden cardiac arrest can be prevented, but it takes a village.

Why? Because it’s often a bystander who makes the difference between a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s life or death. Knowledge and practice of a few simple steps are within easy reach of every citizen, making each person a potential lifesaver. That bystander has only minutes to act to save the person, who could be a friend volleying across a tennis net, a loved one sitting across the dinner table or a stranger walking on the adjacent treadmill at the gym.

First, some facts about this life-threatening condition. Just as its name implies, sudden cardiac arrest means the heart suddenly stops beating, preventing blood flow to the brain and other vital organs, explains Dr. Brett Faulknier, who is the director of electrophysiology at Indian River Medical Center. Electrophysiology is a branch of cardiology that diagnoses and treats heart rhythm disorders.

“Sudden cardiac arrest differs from a heart attack,” Dr. Faulknier continues. “A heart attack occurs when the flow of blood from the heart is blocked in one or more of the coronary arteries.” Symptoms of a heart attack — which include, but are not limited to, chest pain and shortness of breath — start slowly and persist for hours, days or even weeks before the blockage becomes severe and leads to a heart attack.