Friday, December 30, 2011

Gyms have duty to use defibrillators: NY appeals court


NEW YORK, Dec 30 (Reuters) - New York health clubs have a legal obligation to use automated external defibrillators on members experiencing cardiac episodes, a unanimous New York appeals court ruled.

The Appellate Division, Second Department, opinion published Thursday is the first time the court has recognized an affirmative duty for health clubs to use AEDs--which are required to be on-site in New York health clubs, along with an employee trained to use them--under New York's General Business Law 627-a.

"Although the statute does not contain any provision that specifically imposes an affirmative duty upon the facility to make use of its required AEDs, it also does not contain any provision stating there is no duty to act," Justice Sandra Sgroi wrote for the unanimous four-judge panel. "Moreover, it is illogical to conclude that no such duty exists."

The underlying case was filed in Suffolk County court in 2008 on behalf of Gregory Miglino, who collapsed after a game of racquetball at a club in Lake Grove, N.Y., owned and operated by Bally Total Fitness of Greater New York Inc.

According to the court record, another gym member alerted the front desk, which immediately placed an emergency call to 911. Several Bally employees, including one trained in AED use, arrived at the scene shortly after with the club's AED and checked Miglino's pulse.

However, the court noted, the AED was never used on Miglino. Several minutes later, an ambulance arrived and took Miglino to nearby Stony Brook Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

It is unclear why Bally employees failed to use the AED, the court wrote. It could be that they acted negligently, but it also is possible that there was a good reason that they didn't attempt to revive Miglino with t he device, according to the ruling.


Regardless, the court concluded that New York law "imposes an inherent duty to make use of the statutorily required AED" and the Miglino lawsuit "states a cognizable cause of action to recover damages based upon Bally's failure to use its AED upon the decedent."

The Appellate Division, First Department, tackled a similar issue in its 2010 ruling in Digiulio v. Gran Inc., a case involving a plaintiff who suffered an apparent heart attack after exercising at a health club.

While that case involved a motion for summary judgment -- unlike the Miglino case, which involved a motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action -- the First Department found no viable cause of action against the club owner, ruling that the "club's employees more than fulfilled their duty of care by immediately calling 911 and performing CPR."

The New York Court of Appeals dismissed the challenge, finding that the plaintiff had failed to establish that the club owner had been grossly negligent in failing to access the club's AED. But it left open the question of whether the General Business Law set forth an affirmative duty to use the AED that clubs a re required to provide, the Second Department noted.

Attorneys for the parties did not immediately return requests for comment.

The case is Miglino v. Bally Total Fitness of Greater New York Inc et al., in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, No. 2010-06556.

For the plaintiff: Demi Sophocleous of Morrison Mahoney.

For the defendant: John Decola tor.

(Reporting by Jessica Dye)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Guidelines to Prevent Sudden Death in Sport to be Issued

Tuesday, December 06, 2011
By Michael Popke — AB Managing Editor

Members of 65 sports and health organizations met Tuesday in Washington, D.C., at the third annual Youth Sports Safety Summit to review a new position statement issued by the National Athletic Trainers' Association titled "Preventing Sudden Death in Sports." To be published in the February 2012 issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, the statement outlines 10 major health conditions and causes of sudden death among athletes, while also providing updated recommendations to ensure better prevention and treatment of sports injuries. According to the NATA, which hosted the summ it, this is the first time an association has provided such condensed information in one document to help medical professionals, coaches, parents and others make more effective and efficient return-to-play and care decisions.

While concussion legislation has passed in 36 states, concussions are not the only problem in youth sports. In fact, the leading cause of death from youth sports is sudden cardiac arrest, which is addressed in the statement  along with asthma, catastrophic brain injuries, cervical spine injuries, diabetes, exertional heat stroke, exertional hyponatremia, exertional sickling, lightning and head-down contact in football. High school athletes suffer two million injuries every year, NATA says, resulting in 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations. In 2010, 50 young athletes died on the playing field , and 40 have died so far in 2011 — including six athletes and one adult coach in August.

“Young athletes are suffering chronic and sometimes catastrophic injury from sports,” says summit moderator and NATA president Marjorie J. Albohm. “Only 42 percent of high schools have access to an athletic trainer, often the primary health care provider when a young athlete goes down on the playing field."

Here are some of the recommendations included in the "Preventing Sudden Death in Sports" position statement:

Catastrophic Brain Injuries

The position statement addresses the prevention of more serious brain injuries and the implications of mismanaging a potentially catastrophic brain injury.

· Proper on-field and sideline management involves identifying any deteriorating conditions indicative of intracranial hemorrhage or brain swelling.

· When a serious brain injury is suspected in a non-responsive athlete, the clinician must be prepared to provide hyperventilation and to administer intravenous diuretics and elevate the head to help decrease intracranial pressure.

· Transportation to a medical facility is paramount under these conditions.

· Proper management of a less serious brain injury, such as a concussion, must still be managed carefully using follow-up assessments of symptoms, neurocognitive function and balance, prior to initiating a gradual return-to-play progression.
· The statement recommends a five-step return-to-play progression following a concussion, allowing the clinician to determine any signs of deterioration that would prevent a premature return to activity.

Exertional Heat Stroke

· Cool first, transport second. Immediate cold water immersion is critical to rapidly reducing body temperature and maximizing odds of survival.

· Determine the core body temperature soon after a collapse to ensure accurate and immediate assessment of a patient with suspected exertional heat stroke. Rectal temperature and gastrointestinal temperature (if available) are the only methods proven valid.

· Follow more detailed return-to-activity recommendations one week after rest; and a gradual return from low- to high-intensity activity in a temperate environment.

Exertional Sickling

· Targeted education and tailored precautions offer a margin of safety for  athletes with sickle cell trait.

· Know the signs and symptoms of exertional sickling and be able to differentiate exertional sickling from other causes of collapse.

·  Understand that exertional sickling can be brought about through intense, sustained activity. Modifying factors of environmental heat, dehydration, asthma, illness and newness to altitude increase the intensity of the activity.


· The sports medicine staff should be properly educated on the signs and symptoms regarding asthma breathing emergencies, how to activate the asthma emergency action plan in such emergencies, how to use asthma inhaler equipment and have supplemental oxygen available.

· A structured warm-up protocol may potentially decrease the risk of an exacerbation or reliance on medications.
· The sports medicine staff should make sure athletes with asthma are properly educated about their condition, including adherence to medications, proper use of inhaler equipment and how to recognize “good or bad” breathing days to prevent asthma exacerbations.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

·  Recognition is key to treatment: Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) should be suspected in any athlete who has collapsed and is unresponsive.

·  Advance preparation is critical to survival once SCA has occurred: Public access to automated external defibrillators and established emergency action plans greatly improve the likelihood of survival.

· Access to early defibrillation is essential: a goal of less than three to fve  minutes from the time of collapse to delivery of the first shock from an AED is strongly recommended.

· The new position statement incorporates the 2010 American Heart Association CPR guideline updates, with an emphasis on chest compressions and AED application as soon as possible.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Luckily he was playing in a local, elementary school because New York State mandates AEDs in schools.

Tough to find an AED in a hotel

Posted at: 11/10/2011 3:40 PM
Updated at: 11/10/2011 6:38 PM
By: Benita Zahn
At 72 Bill Johnson is probably busier than people 20 years his junior. Along with the house hold chores he works part time, hits the golf ball and indulges in his passion - playing basketball.
But in March 2011 a trip down the hardwood almost ended his life. As he explains, "the second time down the court, black. Just completely black. No warning, no illness no dizziness. Black."
Bill's heart stopped beating. Luckily he was playing in a local, elementary school because New York State mandates schools have AED-s - Automated external defibrillators.

"Without it I wouldn't be talking to you" he says. The shock administered by the AED along with CPR kept him alive long enough for the EMT'S to take over. But if he'd suffered that attack while at a hotel, odds are, he'd have been out of luck.

"You know going into a hotel there's CPR training, there's fire extinguishers, there's 9-1-1" Jan Marie Chesterton, President of the NYS Hospitality and Tourism association explains. But not necessarily an AED.
New York law mandates an AED  be available in public places that can host groups of 1,000 or more. So unless a hotel has a grand ballroom, they probably won't have an AED.
Chesterton says there are a host of reasons including cost and the challenge to have enough staffers trained as turnover is high in the hotel industry, something local hotelier Michael Hoffman knows first hand.

"They make us do so many things that sometimes make sense or don't make sense you can't always do the things you'd like to do and it does come down to money for a lot of hoteliers," said Hoffman.
Even though the price has come down in recent years, AEDS can still cost a $1,000 or more. There's also worry about liability, the no good deed goes unpunished philosophy.
"We talked about it a year ago. We got scared off. I didn't know the good Samaritan law was passed," said Hoffman.
That's right. New York took the liability worry out of the equation earlier this year by expanding the state's Good Samaritan Law:  basically, absolving anyone who, in good faith teaches the use of or uses an AED to save a life.
The American Heart Association encourages use of AED's and Julianne Hart of the AHA says, "but I think since AED's have become much easier to use, good Samaritan laws have been strengthened to cover the liability concerns that really some of those barriers have been eliminated."

Now the challenge facing the American Heart Association is to get the word out and reinforce the message that AED's are not only easy to use, they're basically fool proof as the machine prompts you along.

Bottom line, the device won't deliver a shock unless it's needed. All information those in the hotel industry need to hear.
"I sit here and look you square in the face," said Hoffman. "And I don't know why we don't have 'em."

No one's suggesting another law. As Hoffman and Chesteron point out bed and breakfasts handle a much smaller clientele than hotel's like Hoffman's Homeward Suites on Wolf Road -- but they acknowledge everyone needs greater awareness of the life saving potential of these self contained units.
And as for Bill Johnson, thanks to an AED he may get an early Christmas wish. "I want to play hoops again," said Johnson.
The American Heart Association says 295,000 Americans suffer sudden cardiac arrest every year outside of a hospital.
Quick use of an AED along with C.P.R. greatly increase survival odds.
For more information on how to learn these skills click the American Heart Association.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Athlete of the Week: Because Minutes Count in Emergencies

A teen who solicits corporate contributions for defibrillators got one in the hands of Northborough's youth hockey coaches.
By Charlene Arsenault and Mary MacDonald

At 14, Sean Burns is too young to be a professional salesman. But he has the elevator pitch down when it comes to defibrillators, and why they're critically important.

Now, the coaches at Algonquin have one in their hands, too.

In fewer than 10 seconds, he can make a case for why hockey coaches should have Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) at every practice, as well as the games. The machines can restart a heart that has stopped, when seconds count.

"My goal is to make sure every coach has one," Burns said. "It doesn't have to happen in a game. It can happen in a scrimmage."

Burns, a student at Middle School East this year, played hockey for its team. He was motivated to start collecting funds for defibrillators by the experience of Tyler Symes, a student who, while playing hockey for Mil ford High School, was struck in the chest by a puck and went into cardiac arrest. Because the high school trainer had an AED, she and other responders were able to get his heart started again.

"Not all hockey programs are fortunate enough to have defibrillators and my goal is to change that," Burns wrote, in a letter he crafted to solicit donations. With his solicitation letter, he contacted area athletic directors, such as Fran Whitten at Algonquin Regional High School, and "received an overwhelming response."

"I created a fundraising letter and sent it to everyone that I ever skated with, for, or against," said Burns.

Burns received a reply from Ken Calabro, the president of the Starhawks Youth Hockey Association, who was willing to make a donation from his program because the The Starhawks is the youth hockey program that feeds Algonquin Regional High School. He then contacted Whitten to let him know he was able to line up a donation for Algonquin, and ordered the AED. 

"It is amazing how conscientious kids (and people) can be in their quest to help others," said Scott Ellison, coach of the Northborough team. "Sean Burns is a bright light in this world. We are lucky to have this gift of the AED."

So far, he has been able to set up nine donations to the Milford Middle School, Algonquin Regional, Marlboro HS, Milford Youth Football, Hopkinton HS, Medway HS, and Millbury HS. His next donation will go to Northborough High School when he finds a sponsor.

Burns has an agreement with Zoll Medical, of Chelmsford, for the Zoll AED Plus, which has an automated voice that helps the responder administer treatment. The price for Burn's program -- Hearts4Hockey -- is $1,232.50, a discount compared to the normal unit price.

The company spokeswoman, contacted this week, said other manufacturers produce AEDs, but Zoll is the only one that has a recorded voice t hat helps guide people through the process, including chest compressions for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

"When someone goes into sudden cardiac arrest, every second counts," said Diane Egan, spokeswoman for Zoll Medical.

State law does not require AEDs in schools. And the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, which governs high school sports, only requires qualified medical personnel at hockey and football games. The reasons why AEDs are not more universally required are because of the expense and training requirements for coaches, said Paul Wetzel, a spokesman for the MIAA.

"Anytime we talk about it, somone brings up these issues," he said.

Burns, who has played hockey for nine years, wants hockey coaches to have the devices for "peace of mind." Having them in the building isn't enough, he said.

Minutes count, he said.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Most Americans With HCM Live Normal Life Spans

Statement Highlights: , Nov 8, 2011 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a treatable disease compatible with normal longevity. -- HCM is the most common inherited cardiac disease, occurring in one per 500 people worldwide. -- HCM patients should not participate in intense competition sports.

DALLAS, Nov. 8, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Most of the 600,000 Americans with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) -- a genetic heart muscle disease -- can live normal life spans, according to the first science-based guideline fo r diagnosing and treating this disorder.

The joint recommendations of the American College of Cardiology Foundation and the American Heart Association are published online in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association and Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"HCM is widely misperceived as a fatal condition, but a diagnosis of HCM is not a diagnosis of sudden cardiac death. We now have effective treatments to help most patients manage the condition, although it remains the most common cause of sudden death in the young and in competitive athletes," said Bernard J. Gersh, M.D., Ph.D., co-chairman of the guideline writing committee and professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minn.

HCM is a genetic disorder which changes the way the heart functions, including erratic heart beats and obstructed blood flow from the left side of the heart. It can also cause sudden cardiac death, which occurs when lethal heart rhythms intervene. However, for many people, HCM is symptomless and benign.

Heart enlargement thickening in HCM most commonly involves the ventricular septum, the muscular wall that separates the left and right sides of the heart. Abnormal motion of the mitral valve may obstruct the flow of blood from the left ventricle to the aorta artery causing the heart to work harder to keep an adequate amount of bloo d flowing throughout the body.

"A variety of mutations (more than 1,400) in one or more genes of the sarcomere (contractile unit of the heart) cause HCM, but account for only about 50 percent of clinically identified patients. Many other genes and mutations will be discovered to explain HCM in other patients," said Barry Maron, M.D., co-chairman of the guideline writing committee and director of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, Minneapolis, Minn.

HCM is the most common inherited heart disease, occurring in one per 500 people and therefore at least 600,000 Americans.

"The typical cardiologist might see one new HCM case a year. Many patients with HCM will benefit by seeking treatment from clinical centers of excellence focused on this disease, which have the most contemporary medical and surgical treatments available," Maron said.

Managing HCM-related heart failure can be complicated, particularly in patients who do not respond to standard drug therapy, such as beta- and calcium-channel blockers.

"There are highly successful surgical and catheter-based approaches, best carried out in centers of excellence," Maron said.

Among the other recommendations in the newly released guideline:
          --  Drug therapy with beta-blockers, verapamil or disopyramide, can control
              symptoms such as shortness of breath.
          --  The most appropriate treatment for advanced heart failure, due to
   &n bsp;          obstruction in patients who don't respond to medication, remains
              transaortic surgical septal myectomy -- a procedure to remove excessive
              muscle from the septum and improve the symptoms.
          --  For patients who are not candidates for surgery, catheter-based alcohol
              septal ablation is an alternative treatment option. The procedure
              introduces alcohol in the heart and causes a myocardial infarction
              (heart attack) to reduce the muscle mass of the septum.
          --  All patients diagnosed with HCM should undergo a comprehensive
              evaluation of their risk of sudden cardiac arrest, including a personal
              and family history and non invasive assessment with an echocardiogram.
          --  HCM patients should be provided genetic counseling and genetic testing
              if appropriate.
          --  HCM with or without obstruction should disqualify individuals from
              participating in most competition sports. Patients can participate in
              low-in tensity competitive sports, such as golf and a range of
              recreational sporting activities.
          --  Prevention of sudden death is possible in HCM using the implantable
              defibrillator in selected patients judged to be at high risk based on
              risk markers such as fainting or a history of a family member with
       & nbsp;      sudden death.
Co-authors are: Robert O. Bonow, M.D.; Joseph A. Dearani, M.D.; Michael A. Fifer, M.D.; Mark S. Link, M.D.; Sridhar S. Naidu, M.D.; Rick A. Nishimura, M.D.; Steve R. Ommen, M.D.; Harry Rakowski, M.D.; Christine E. Seidman, M.D.; Jeffrey A. Towbin, M.D.; James E. Udelson, M.D. and Clyde W. Yancy, M.D.

Author disclosures are on the statement.

The statement was developed in collaboration with the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, American Society of Echocardiography, American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, Heart Failure Society of America, Heart Rhythm Society, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, and Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the association's policy or position. The association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and e vents. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at .

NR11- 1156 (Circulation/Gersh/Maron)

Stay up to date on the latest news from American Heart Association scientific meetings, including Scientific Sessions 2010, by following us at . We will be tweeting from the conference using hashtag #AHA10News.

Additional resources available to right column of this link :

The American Heart Association logo is available at

For Media Inquiries:

AHA: Darcy Spitz: (212) 878-5940;
ACC: Amanda Jekowsky: (202) 375-6645;

This news release was distributed by GlobeNewswire,

SOURCE: American Heart Association

For Public Inquiries: (800)-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tito Gonzalez honored for Paul Waller's life with CPR

Cardiac arrest survivor Paul Waller, right, hugs Janette Myers of Rural Metro who helped attend to him when he had a heart attack. / Annette Lein/staff photographer

Cardiac arrest survivor Paul Waller, right, gives an award to his friend Tito Gonzalez during a recognition ceremony for the people responsible for saving Waller’s life. / Annette Lein/staff photographer
When Paul Waller told his friend Tito Gonzalez that he didn't feel too well and was going to skip a workout at the YMCA last spring, those could have been his last words.
Not too long after the chat, he was stricken by a heart attack.

Gonzalez, sensing something just wasn't right, decided he would stop by Waller's home in Rochester's South Wedge to check on his friend.
He found Waller in cardiac arrest and immediately administered CPR, a skill he learned in high school but had never had to use. Waller, 59, will forever be grateful to Gonzalez, 26, who chose to pass along praise to a higher power.
"I'd like to thank God because sometimes our instincts are not our own," he said. "I don't know why I went over. Possibly the voice of God was telling me something's wrong."
Waller and Gonzalez, who are deaf, met about two years ago at a group gathering.

Gonzalez provided the life-saving help until emergency responders from the Rochester Fire Department and Rural/Metro Medical Services arrived.
"This case is an especially gratifying one for us in that everything went right," said Thomas Bonfiglio, general manager of Rural/Metro.

Gonzalez; Charles Scinta, Jason Walter, Brian Miller and Mike Scialdone from the fire department; and Amy Ruffo, Larry Onderdonk, Jeneane Terranova, Janette Myers, Mikhail Koroton and David Leisten from Rural/Metro were presented with the American Heart Association's Heart Saver Hero Award.
According to the heart association, less than 8 percent of people who have sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital survive and/or survive without severe damage to the heart or vital organs.
The American Heart Association is using the story of Waller and Gonzalez in its push for mandatory CPR training for all New York high school students.
"Schools exist to teach students about life; why not teach them to save a life?" said Dr. John Cullen, board president of the AHA.

Waller wholeheartedly would agree.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Acomporas Help Screen for Heart Issues

 Northport students screened for heart conditions Saturday as part of Heart Screen New York, an initiative in conjunction with the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation.

‹ Back to Article
Two hundred and forty students between 14 and 24 years old were screened for heart conditions at Northport High School on Saturday as part of Heart Screen New York, an initiative in conjunction with the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation, Dominic A Murray 21 Memorial Foundation, and Mount Sinai Hospital.
Students were given a heart physical exam, blood pressure tests, electrocardiograms, and, in some cases, echocardiograms, by medical staff from New York College of Osteopathic Medicine assisted by local volunteers. Some students also participated in a CPR/AED education station.
"The event was a huge success and we are looking forward to bringing the heart screening to other area schools," said Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation Founder Karen Acompora.
Karen lost her 14-year-old son, Louis, to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in 2000 following an injury in a lacrosse game. Each year approximately 250,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest). The vast majority of these deaths are caused by the initiation of an abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF), a chaotic heart rhythm that results in a loss of circulation and delivery of oxygen to the body tissues. Louis Acompora suffered an episode of VF called commotio cordis.
The Foundation seeks to reduce the incident of preventable deaths from cardiac arrest through awareness campaigns and by providing access to life-saving defibrillators. For more information, visit

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Capps: Act Aims to Reduce Sudden Cardiac Arrest Deaths

By Rep. Lois Capps
Special to Roll Call
Oct. 25, 2011, Midnight

We see it in the news far too often. A student is at football practice or playing basketball or just walking to class when he suddenly collapses and dies from sudden cardiac arrest.

When a tragedy like this happens, most of us feel helpless. We think there’s nothing we can do in the face of such an emergency. But, in fact, there’s a lot we can do.

All of us can be part of what the American Heart Association calls the “chain of survival,” which focuses on immediate treatment — even before emergency responders arrive — with CPR and an automated external defibrillator, or AED, which gives the victim the best chance of survival and a second chance at life.

That’s why I have introduced the Teaching Children to Save Lives Act (H.R. 3189). This bill will help strengthen the second link in the chain of survival by providing grants for programs to teach schoolchildren and teens CPR and how to use an AED — knowledge and skills they can carry into adulthood.

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the U.S., killing almost 300,000 people annually — including about 6,500 of our young people. And sadly, that trend is only growing, especially among our student athletes.

This tragedy is compounded by the fact that fewer than one in 10 SCA victims survives, when studies have shown that survival rates can be 34 percent or higher. In other words, 100,000 lives could be saved if more people knew how to be a critical link in the chain of survival. By training the next generation of students in CPR and AED response, they may one day save the life of a classmate, friend, family member or complete stranger.

October is National Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month, and I ask all my colleagues in joining me and becoming a co-sponsor of the Teaching Children to Save Lives Act.

I am also working with the SCA Coalition to advance this legislation. Please “Take a Stand Against Sudden Cardiac Arrest” by joining us Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building foyer to learn more about what all of us can do to reduce the rate of death from SCA in our country.

Whether young or old, let’s not wait for another tragedy and the needless loss of life to sudden cardiac arrest. Let’s unite to help save lives by teaching a new generation CPR and AED use. It ’s a legacy all of us should be proud to leave.

Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), a registered nurse, is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Doctors: Sen. Scott White's Death Shows Desperate Need for Education on Sudden Cardiac Arrest

By Curtis Cartier Tue., Oct. 25 2011 at 9:00 AM
Categories: Health and Welfare

"There's no Susan G. Komen for Sudden Cardiac Arrest," Dr. Jeanne Poole, director of the University of Washington's Arrhythmia Service and Electrophysiology Laboratory, tells Seattle Weekly. "And there should be."

Poole says that the sudden death of Washington state Senator Scott White was likely preventable, and that the dangers of what killed him are often ignored by the press and the public.

White, 41, was found dead on Friday in a hotel room in Cle Elum, the reason: Sudden Cardiac Arrest due in part to an enlarged heart.

"With [Sen. White's] death no one is talking about Sudden Cardiac Death, we're hearing all about how he had this underlying problem of an enlarged heart. " Poole says. "Every single day, seven hundred to a thousand Americans die from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. But because it's sudden, and people don't go through rounds and rounds of chemotherapy and treatment for it, you know, it's tragic and unexpected so people move on with their lives, and don't have this emotional grassroots outpouring of support for educating people about it."

Poole explains that SCA is not like a typical heart attack, which is caused by a blood vessel or artery getting backed up. Instead, SCA is more of an "electrical problem" that happens when the heart's rhythm gets messed up.

Treating SCA when it happens requires someone being around to see it (witness the person collapse) and call 911, at which point medics can use an automated external defibrillator to, literally, shock the heart back to normal.

Treatment for people with a high risk of SCA often involves implanting a somewhat similar device (an implantable cardioverter defibrillator) inside the body. But access to such devices is too limited and education surrounding them is largely lacking, says Poole.

darryl wells01.jpg

Dr. Darryl Wells

Dr. Darryl Wells, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Swedish Medical Center echoes Poole's notion that SCA is a vastly underemphasized problem in the United States.

He also says that there is a good simple rule to remember when it comes to knowing your risk factor for SCA. "The classic buzzword is know your EF (ejection fraction)," Wells says. "It's the single biggest risk stratifier to knowing your risk--a normal rate being 55 to 60, abnormal being less than 40, certainly less than 35."

Poole also notes that knowing one's family history with regard to heart disease is crucial to guarding against this sudden, silent killer. Also, like anything related to heart health, healthy living (i.e. not smoking, exercising regularly, not eating junk food all the time) is highly recommended.

"Individuals need to not hesitate to see physician for things like unexplained tiredness, any chest discomforts, heart palpitations, fainting spells," Poole says. "The take-home message is that we need to increase Sudden Cardiac Arrest awareness so that when it is witnessed a call is made and an electronic defibrillator is used. And we need better management of risk factors; Americans taking charge of their own health care, and not ignoring symptoms."

Some other facts about SCA, according to the Heart Rhythm Foundation are:

    --Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for an estimated 325,000 deaths each year

    --In SCA, the heart abruptly and unexpectedly ceases to function (cardiac arrest). It is an "electrical problem" caused by a heart rhythm disorder called Ventricular Fibrillation (VF). In SCA, the heart is no longer able to pump blood to the rest of the body.

    --SCA is NOT a heart attack - a condition technically known as a myocardial infarction (MI). MI is a "plumbing problem" in which a blockage in a blood vessel interrupts the flow of blood to the heart causing an "infarct" - an area of dead heart muscle. SCA may, however, occur in association with a heart attack.

    --VF occurs when the electrical signals that control the pumping ability (contractions) of the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) suddenly become rapid and chaotic. The ventricles begin to quiver and can not longer pump blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

    --SCA is NOT a random event. Although it may occur in outwardly healthy people, most victims DO have heart disease or other health problems, often without being aware of it.

    Without emergency help, SCA leads to death within minutes.

    --Victims of cardiac arrest can be saved if a defibrillator device is immediately available to deliver an electric shock to restore the heart to its normal rhythm.

    --People who are at high risk for SCA may be treated with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), devices that are implanted under the skin. ICDs monitor the heart's rhythm and automatically deliver a short, high-energy shock when the individual develops an irregular heart rhythm that may lead to SCA.

    --Studies have shown that ICDs are the best way to prevent cardiac arrest in certain groups of patients who are at high risk.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

National Survey Reveals 1 in 2 People are Unaware That Fainting Could Signal a Life-Threatening Heart Condition

New Public Awareness Campaign Educates Americans About the Important Link Between Fainting and Heart Health

HILTON HEAD, S.C., Oct. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Do you take fainting to heart? The majority of Americans don't. Although fainting affects an estimated one million people in the United States each year,(1) a national survey released today by the patient advocacy group STARS (Syncope Trust and Reflex Anoxic Seizures) and supported by Medtronic Inc., shows that one in two Americans are unaware that fainting could be a warning sign for a serious, potentially life-threatening heart condition. Most Americans rank dehydration, exhaustion and stress as the leading causes of fainting. But, in many cases fainting is the only sign of an abnormal heart rhythm, which is a leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest – a devastating condition that kills more than 250,000 people each year.(2)

In an effort to educate people about fainting and its link to heart health, STARS and Medtronic collaborated to launch the Take Fainting to Heart campaign to encourage people to take fainting seriously and urge those who have fainted to talk with a doctor to investigate the cause of their fainting episodes.

"STARS is proud to participate in this innovative educational campaign to spotlight the seriousness of fainting and its real health impact," said Trudie Lobban, MBE, Founder and CEO of STARS. "As part of our outreach, new information and interactive resources are available at to help people take fainting to heart. Download The Fainting Checklist to help you and your doctor work towards a correct diagnosis."

Fainting, medically referred to as syncope, is a sudden, temporary loss of consciousness that occurs when there is a lack of blood supply to the brain. It accounts for one to six percent of hospital admissions(3) and approximately one percent of visits to the emergency room per year.(3-5) While most causes of fainting are harmless, others may be life threatening if they are caused by an underlying heart rhythm disorder.

According to the survey, even though a majority of Americans (76 percent) have fainted themselves or know someone who has fainted, only 36 percent believe that the issue deserves immediate medical attention.(6) Given this, it is no surprise that many people don't have the faintest idea of what caused them to pass out:
  • One-third of Americans did nothing after they fainted
  • Less than half reported talking to a physician
  • Less than a quarter underwent any kind of medical testing
 "Fainting could be a symptom of a more serious issue, and should not be taken lightly," said Dr. Nicholas Tullo, Cardiac-Electrophysiologist at Consultants in Cardiology in West Orange, New Jersey. "Getting to the root cause of an individual's fainting is the first and most important step in ruling out a serious, potentially life-threatening heart condition. Certain advanced diagnostic tests, such as insertable cardiac monitors, can quickly determine whether a person's fainting is due to an underlying heart condition and provide physicians with pertinent information needed to treat the problem."

To ensure a proper diagnosis and treatment, Take Fainting to Heart aims to empower people who have experienced a fainting episode to take the following steps and find out why:
  • Discuss your fainting with a doctor and provide an accurate history of your previous episodes.
  • Ask if you should see a heart rhythm specialist, such as a cardiologist or electrophysiologist, for further diagnostic testing. A heart rhythm specialist may prescribe an insertable cardiac monitor (ICM), which records the heart's activity over long periods of time to help determine whether the fainting is caused by an abnormal heart rhythm.
  • According to a recent study, patients who had fainted were evaluated by an average of three different specialists and underwent an average of 13 tests without providing a conclusive diagnosis. These findings suggest that an ICM implanted earlier in the evaluation process could result in a more efficient diagnosis.(7)
Forrest Finch, a paramedic in Alton, Ill., experienced a fainting episode while driving an ambulance, which resulted in an accident. "My doctor suspected that the fainting was related to a heart issue and his suspicion was quickly confirmed by an ICM. After being diagnosed, I was placed on a treatment plan that has kept my heart rhythm in check ever since."

For more information on Take Fainting to Heart, visit to access information and interactive tools, gain insight from medical experts and hear compelling stories about people's personal experiences with fainting. 

About Take Fainting to Heart

Take Fainting to Heart aims to educate Americans about the important link between fainting and heart health. The campaign encourages people who have fainted to visit their doctor to determine if it is caused by an underlying, serious health problem. A number of educational resources are available at, including an "ask-the-expert" feature, a downloadable checklist to take to a doctor's visit and compelling stories of how patients took control of their fainting.  Similar educational tools, along with additional information about fainting and its link to heart health are also available at 

About the Survey 

These results are based on a survey conducted by Kelton Research in September 2011. A total of 1,082 people responded to the survey. Quotas are set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population ages 18 and over.


STARS ( is the leading non-profit organization providing information and support individuals, families and medical professionals on syncope.  STARS provides information and support from diagnosis through to treatment and long term management of syncope for all age groups.



(3) Kappor W.N. Am J Med. 1991 : 90 ; 91-106

(4) Brignole M, et al. Europace. 2003 ; 5 :293-298.

(5) Blanc J-J, et al. Eur Heart J. 2002 ;23 :815-820.

(6) Take Fainting to Heart Survey, Kelton Research. September 2011.

(7) Edvardsson, N, et al. Use of an implantable loop recorder to increase the diagnostic yield in unexplained syncope: results from the PICTURE registry. EP Europace. 2011; 13(2): 262-269 (first published online on Nov. 19, 2010)

Jennifer Bemisderfer

Press Release Source: STARS (Syncope Trust and Reflex Anoxic Seizures)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Acompora group extends lifesaving reach

Originally published: October 12, 2011 7:31 PM
Updated: October 12, 2011 9:19 PM

The Louis J. Acompora Foundation has been in the vanguard of raising public awareness about the need for automated electronic defibrillators -- AEDs. Louis' Law, passed in June 2000, required the devices to be placed in New York public schools.

Photo credit: Steve Pfost | Karen Acompora honors the memory of her son, who died of cardiac arrest in 2000, by raising awareness about portable defibrillators. (Oct. 12, 2011)

A Northport-based foundation is joining with a major advocacy organization to outfit 140 Long Island group homes with portable defibrillators -- and to make the lifesaving devices available to others in those communities.

The Louis J. Acompora Foundation has been in the vanguard of raising public awareness about the need for automated electronic defibrillators -- AEDs. Louis' Law, enacted... Read more

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