Dr. Maheer Gandhavadi joined hosts Shannon O’Kelley, Physical Therapist and President of Integrated Rehabilitation Group, and Maury Eskenazi, radio personality from Fox Sports radio on Health Matters radio, KRKO 1380am, with thanks to Integrated Rehabilitation Group physical and hand therapy. He talked about sudden cardiac arrest, AED and Basic Life Support.
Health Matters: Okay. So, we often hear about sudden cardiac arrest in athletes, and it's in the media on a fairly regular basis…What is going on in that particular situation? Is that an arrhythmia problem, but a different type of arrhythmia problem?
Dr. Gandhavadi: Absolutely. A lot of times you will hear people say, "Oh, so and so died of a heart attack." "He collapsed suddenly, or my friend just, you know, died in his sleep all of a sudden. They think he had a heart attack." And, it's not that they had a heart attack, it's that they had cardiac arrest. A heart attack can cause cardiac arrest, but cardiac arrest can be caused by a lot of other things that are not heart attacks. What it really is is that your heart's electrical system stops working and just kind of malfunctions, and that's more an issue with the bottom chambers, the ventricles, rather than the top chambers, the atria.
Health Matters: So, you're probably a big fan of BLS, which is Basic Life Support, and these AED devices in the public facilities.
Dr. Gandhavadi: Absolutely. I cannot stress it enough that everybody should take a BLS class and be comfortable with basic life support and starting CPR, being able to start the resuscitation process until emergency staff can get there. An AED is an amazing life-saving tool for someone who is having a cardiac arrest. So, everyone should know how to use an AED and taking a BLS class will make you very comfortable with AED use.
Health Matters: Isn't it true the AED has been simplified so much that if you have never had an opportunity to take a BLS class, but you're in a situation and you can locate that AED, and usually it's identified, I think it's a red placard with like a lighting bolt through it, and you can open that up and turn it on and it's going to walk you through what needs to be done?
Dr. Gandhavadi: That's right. AEDs are very simple to use nowadays, and you can find them, they're usually in most public places, stores, malls, stadiums, schools, and they are readily located by a sign that will say either AED and then it will have a heart with a lightning bolt through it, and, if you're not sure where it is, the staff members wherever you are, they should know where it is and they can bring it to you. But, even if you have never used and AED before, all you have to do is turn it on and it will tell you exactly what to do in step-by-step sequence so you can use it effectively.
Health Matters: Is it like the little paddles where you put em on and blast? Is that what that is?
Dr. Gandhavadi: So, if someone has cardiac arrest, they will need a shock to shock them into a normal rhythm, and that's what part of what the AED does. But, you, if you're using an AED, you're not going to be holding paddles, shocking someone. Technology has improved a little bit nowadays...there are just little stickers that you apply to the chest.
Health Matters: Got it. And, there are great diagrams on the AED itself to show you exactly where the stickers need to go, right?
Dr. Gandhavadi: That's right. There is really nothing you have to do, other than turn it on and follow the instructions.
Dr. Gandhavadi: Once the pads are in place, the AED will analyze the rhythm and if it thinks it's a rhythm that would benefit from a shock it will tell you to shock the patient and it will charge up and be ready to go, and all you have to do is push the button when it tells you to. Health Matters: And, I'm just assuming, this shouldn't replace 911. You call 911 first and then you use this. Is that it?
Dr. Gandhavadi: That's right. If you see someone who suddenly becomes unresponsive, who stops breathing, they collapse, the first thing you want to do is call 911. The second thing you want to do is go get an AED and the third thing you want to do is start CPR.
Health Matters: There is it, right there. And, just recently, in the local paper I read that an organization in town here had to use an AED and their staff was all trained and they did CPR, they did the AED, and the person that was involved made it to the hospital. So, what kind of timeframe are you looking at, you know, in that sequence where the intervention is necessary?
Dr. Gandhavadi: The sooner, the better.
Dr. Gandhavadi: When someone has cardiac arrest, their brain is not getting any oxygen, and even in the course of minutes you can do severe damage to the brain, sometimes that can't be reversed. The faster you can get to the person, put an AED on, and start CPR, the better their chances of survival are. Just in terms of statistics, almost 360,000 people have a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital and of those people only 60% are treated by emergency technicians. So, it's really important for people to feel comfortable with basic life support and the use of an AED because a) there may not be an emergency technician who is available to come, or b) it may take a little bit of time before those EMTs show up and you want to give whoever passed out or had this cardiac arrest, you want to give them the best opportunity at full recovery.
Health Matters: There it is - AED.