Wed | Jul 18, 2018

Three Minutes to Live - Experts make urgent call for citizens to learn CPR

Published:Saturday | February 11, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Dr Marilyn Lawrence Wright
Dr Hugh Wong

The sudden and potentially debilitating nature of cardiac arrests, have prompted medical experts to make an urgent call for every lay person to learn the techniques of conducting a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Dr Marilyn Lawrence Wright, consultant cardiologist at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, stressed that CPR is not exclusive to medical experts as she pointed to studies which show, that if action is not taken within three minutes after cardiac arrest, the likelihood of survival is severely low.

"If you don't respond within three minutes then that's basically it for the most part. I know that for every minute that you lose, and nothing is done, you are going to have a decrease in chances of survival of anywhere between seven and 10 per cent. In this case doing something means a cardiopulmonary resuscitation and what that does, is help to keep the blood circulating," she told journalists during an Editors' Forum held at The Gleaner's offices in downtown Kingston yesterday.

... Chest compression could be enough, says Wong

Dr Hugh Wong, consultant emergency physician at the Kingston Public Hospital and director of Emergency Cardiac Care at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica was equally instructive in his comments as he noted that the unexpected nature of the disease calls for citizens to be informed.

"In terms of the response for somebody who collapses on the field, at work, or other places, a quick response is necessary. If the heart doesn't restart within three or four minutes, every minute you lose 10 per cent of your surviving capacity, the chance of you surviving goes down by that much," Wong said.

"Every lay person needs to know CPR and that's what I think is one of the primary thrust to reduce death, because it is totally unexpected. And because it is unexpected, you don't know who is going to fall," he continued

He added, "Even though you still panic but training sets you into an action mode. If you don't want to put your mouth on somebody that's fine, you can always do chest compressions or CPR until somebody comes with that mask but you need to do chest compressions. However, chest compression alone will not revive somebody if the heart is quivering, you need to stop the heart from quivering and the only thing that does that so far is to defibrillate the heart and that is the use of an indigenous machine (automated external defibrillator)."