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.

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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

Monday, October 10, 2011

Quick-thinking teachers revive girl, 12, after collapse

By Michael Inbar contributor
updated 10/10/2011 9:53:01 AM ET

A Dallas-area seventh-grader survived a literally heart-stopping crisis virtually unscathed thanks to two quick-thinking, well-trained schoolteachers.

Kristen Goodgion and Brent Reese, teachers at Maus Middle School in Frisco, Texas, rushed within seconds to the aid of 12-year-old Kylee Shea after she crumpled in a school hallway Sept. 26. While Reese performed CPR, Goodgion fetched the school’s automatic external defibrillator (AED). They used the machine’s paddles to kick-start Kylee’s heart in a dramatic rescue caught on the school’s surveillance cameras.

Doctors estimate that without the rapid response of Goodgion and Reese and the use of the AED, Kylee would have had just a 3 percent chance of surviving her episode of heart arrhythmia, and only a 1 percent chance of surviving without brain damage.
Story: Meet ‘Lazarus tot’ whose heart stopped for 1 hour
Goodgion and Reese are now being hailed as heroes. Appearing on TODAY with Kylee and her family Monday, Goodgion told Matt Lauer she knows firsthand the benefits of the school having its teachers trained in CPR and use of the AED.
“(It’s) extremely important,” she said. “We get trained every two years, and that literally is what we fell back on. It kept us calm; we had something to (fall) back on, to know what to do.”

‘It told us to shock’
Kylee had no prior history of heart trouble, but was walking to class when she felt short of breath. “I sat down, then I fell over, and I don’t remember anything after that,” she told NBC’s Lilia Luciano.

Goodgion, nearby, was alerted by alarmed students. Within seconds, Kylee began convulsing and turning blue. “Right away, I knew I had to go get help,” Goodgion told NBC News.

Reese arrived on the scene just moments later. He told Lauer while Kylee’s heart had stopped, his was racing.

“When I saw Kylee on the floor, just a million things are going through (my) head,” he said. “You just kind of go into shell shock, and you kind of just reboot and we went back to the training.”

Surveillance video shows teacher Brent Reese
working to revive 12-year-old Kylee Shea,
collapsed on the the floor. Kristen Goodgion
stands at right.
As the video vividly shows, Goodgion arrived at Kylee’s side with the AED. While the teachers were trained in its use, actually deploying the paddles on a living subject was a new experience. They hooked the AED up to Kylee and it began reading her vital signs.

“It told us to shock, and we both looked at each other in shock, like, ‘This is really what we need to do right now?’ ” Goodgion recalled.

Reese was only too aware that if Kylee’s heart was actually still beating, the shock paddles could do just the opposite of their intent — kill her.

“In the video, I reach out to touch the (shock) button, and I pull back just a little bit, thinking those exact thoughts,” he told Lauer.

Nontheless, the pair shocked Kylee’s heart. After a second attempt, the procedure appeared to work, with the AED reading “no shock required.”

“She started groaning and we’re still thinking, ‘Did we do this right?’ ” Goodgion said. “(But) it worked.”

A 12-year-old with a pacemaker
Emergency personnel arrived and Kylee was airlifted to a local hospital. Doctors determined the 12-year-old had an undetected heart condition, and she was implanted with a pacemaker. She showed Lauer the scar from the procedure on TODAY.

Doctors told the family that if Goodgion and Reese hadn’t been trained and reacted as quickly as they did, Kylee would likely have been lost. And it was no less fortunate that the the state of Texas mandates that AEDs be placed in all state schools.

Grateful mom Sheryl Shea told Lauer she believes that rule should be universal.

“I think it should be a nationwide mandate,” she said. “I think every state should be required to have these in schools and public places.”

Goodgion and Reese say they now feel a special bond with Kylee — Reese jokes that Kylee, as she grows older, won’t be allowed to date without his permission.

Lauer suggested that every school should be required to have Reese and Goodgion as well an AED.

Kylee’s dad, Mike Shea, reached across to pat the hands of his daughter’s saviors. “They’re stuck with us, (but) thank you!”

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