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Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - October is National Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month

October is National Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month, a month dedicated to raising public awareness about this serious heart health issue that takes more than 250,000 American lives each year; more than breast cancer, lung cancer or AIDS.

“About 500 Americans suffer sudden cardiac arrest every day and only 30 survive,” said Michael A. Chizner, M.D., cardiologist and Chief Medical Director of The Heart Center of Excellence of Broward Health, a 115,000-square foot state-of-the-art facility offering comprehensive cardiac services, from prevention to diagnosis and treatment. “One of the most important things we can stress to the public during this month is that if you are at the scene of a sudden cardiac arrest, it is essential to perform uninterrupted chest compressions (or ‘hands-only’ CPR) as soon as possible and, if available, with automatic external defibrillators (AEDs).These are life-saving measures and many people do not understand their importance”.

“To decrease the number of deaths resulting from sudden cardiac arrest, it is essential that people understand what it is, what the symptoms and warning signs are and how to respond to and prevent it,” said Ahmed Osman, M.D., board certified cardiologist at The Heart Center of Excellence, located at Broward General Medical Center.

The risk factors of sudden cardiac arrest include having a family history of coronary artery disease, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle, drinking more than two glasses of alcohol a day, a previous episode of cardiac arrest, a previous heart attack, a personal or family history of other forms of heart disease, being male (men are two to three times more likely to experience sudden cardiac arrest), age (men over 45 and women over 55), using illegal drugs and nutritional imbalance.

The symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest are sudden and often drastic including sudden collapse, loss of pulse, loss of consciousness and loss of breathing. Other signs that can precede sudden cardiac arrest may include fatigue, fainting, blackouts, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, palpitations and vomiting, but sudden cardiac arrest often occurs with no warning. If warning signs are experienced frequently, one should seek counsel from a doctor. If sudden cardiac arrest happens, lack of oxygenated blood can cause brain damage in only a few minutes and death or permanent brain damage can occur within four to six minutes. Immediate action should be taken by calling 911, administering CPR and using a portable defibrillator if available. 

To learn more about sudden cardiac arrest, visit www.suddencardiacarrest.org.

Broward Health, providing service for more than 50 years, is a nationally recognized system offering world-class health care services to our neighbors in South Florida. One of the 10 largest public health systems in the nation, Broward Health includes Broward General Medical Center, North Broward Medical Center, Imperial Point Medical Center, Coral Springs Medical Center, Chris Evert Children’s Hospital, Broward Health Weston and more than 30 facilities of the Community Health Services and Broward Health Physician Group. For more information, visit www.BrowardHealth.org